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How diffusivity, thermocline and incident light intensity modulate the dynamics of Deep Chlorophyll Maximum in Tyrrhenian Sea

  • Autori: Valenti, D; Denaro, G; Spagnolo, B; Conversano, F; Brunet, C
  • Anno di pubblicazione: 2015
  • Tipologia: Articolo in rivista (Articolo in rivista)
  • OA Link:


During the last few years theoretical works have shed new light and proposed new hypotheses on the mechanisms which regulate the spatio-temporal behaviour of phytoplankton communities in marine pelagic ecosystems. Despite this, relevant physical and biological issues, such as effects of the time- dependent mixing in the upper layer, competition between groups, and dynamics of non-stationary deep chlorophyll maxima, are still open questions. In this work, we analyze the spatio-temporal behaviour of five phytoplankton populations in a real marine ecosystem by using a one-dimensional reaction-diffusion-taxis model. The study is performed, taking into account the seasonal variations of environmental variables, such as light intensity, thickness of upper mixed layer and profiles of vertical turbulent diffusivity, obtained starting from experimental findings. Theoretical distributions of phytoplankton cell concentration was converted in chlorophyll concentration, and compared with the experimental profiles measured in a site of the Tyrrhenian Sea at four different times (seasons) of the year, during four different oceanographic cruises. As a result we find a good agreement between theoretical and experimental distributions of chlorophyll concentration. In particular, theoretical results reveal that the seasonal changes of environmental variables play a key role in the phytoplankton distribution and determine the properties of the deep chlorophyll maximum. This study could be extended to other marine ecosystems to predict future changes in the phytoplankton biomass due to global warming, in view of devising strategies to prevent the decline of the primary production and the consequent decrease of fish species.