Phytoplankton Upwelling Mauritania
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Phytoplankton Upwelling, Mauritania

January 17, 2006
Small, single-celled phytoplankton plays a key role in the marine food chain. They convert sunlight, carbon dioxide and nutrients into carbohydrates on which nearly all life in the ocean depends. In most parts of the Earth's ocean, phytoplankton concentration is extremely low. However, in "upwelling areas," deep water is pumped up to the surface by strong winds, such as trade winds blowing parallel to the coast. This deep water is rich in nutrients and this supplies phytoplankton with the nitrogen, phosphates and silicates they need for their growth. Important fishing grounds can be found in these areas. When this upwelling process collapses, as for instance off the Peruvian coast during El Nino events, the ecosystem is dramatically disrupted. Climate change has an impact on the intensity and geographical position of upwelling areas, which, in turn, has important consequences to fishing industries and those who depend on them.

Technical Information:
  • Satellite: Envisat
  • Instrument: MERIS
  • Acquisition: 22-Mar-2002
  • Orbit nr: 00306

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