What's New :

‘New study helps monitor trends in phytoplankton biomass in Bay of Bengal’

  • Category
    Environment
  • Published
    22nd Sep, 2020

Researchers have discovered way to measure the quantity of chlorophyll-a in the Bay of Bengal, a dominant pigment found in phytoplankton cell and present in a few areas of the ocean, in real-time. 

Context

Researchers have discovered way to measure the quantity of chlorophyll-a in the Bay of Bengal, a dominant pigment found in phytoplankton cell and present in a few areas of the ocean, in real-time. 

About

What are Phytoplanktons?

  • Phytoplanktons are tiny microscopic plants found in the ocean. They are important ecological indicators that regulate life in ocean.
  • They have chlorophyll to capture sunlight, and use photosynthesis to turn it into chemical energy. They consume carbon dioxide and release oxygen.
  • All phytoplankton photosynthesise, but some get additional energy by consuming other organisms.
  • Like terrestrial plants, the eco-friendly phytoplankton is largely dependent on light, temperature and nutrients.

Chlorophyll

  • Chlorophyll is a pigment or a chemical compound that absorbs and reflects specific wavelengths of light.
  • Chlorophyll is found within cells in the thylakoid membrane of an organelle called the chloroplast.
  • The primary pigment of photosynthesis is chlorophyll A.
    • Chlorophyll A absorbs light from the orange-red and violet-blue areas of the electromagnetic spectrum.
    • Chlorophyll A transfers energy to the reaction center and donates two excited electrons to the electron transport chain.
  • Chlorophyll B is an accessory pigment because it is not necessary for photosynthesis to occur.
  • All organisms that perform photosynthesis have chlorophyll A, but not all organisms contain chlorophyll B.

Key-findings of the Study

  • The findings were published in journal Environmental Science and Pollution Research.
  • The study was based on in-situ and satellite data spanning over the last 16 years.
  • They observed significant increase of chlorophyll-a concentration during pre-southwest monsoon seasons.
  • The other parameters studied were total suspended matter (TSM) and coloured dissolved organic matter (CDOM), which are optically active substances in water.
  • There were two peaks of chlorophyll-a —
    • the primary peak occurred during the pre-southwest monsoon due to the recurrent phytoplankton bloom in the coastal water
    • the secondary peak occurred during the end of the southwest monsoon, spreading to far offshore areas.

Major controlling factors for the abundance and distribution of phytoplankton

  • Salinity and nutrients: The study area experienced maximum spatial variability during pre-southwest monsoon with salinity and nutrients — the major controlling factors for the abundance and distribution of phytoplankton.
  • Physical forces: Apart from phytoplankton bloom contributing to this increase of chlorophyll-a in nearshore waters, the study found physical forces such as upwelling, wind-induced vertical mixing, convective overturn and local circulation pattern influenced the peaks by supplying dissolved chemical input.

How Phytoplanktons are ‘beneficial’ for the environment?

  • Phytoplanktons contribute to more than half of the oxygen that we breathe.
  • That apart, they influence our climate by absorbing human-induced carbon dioxide, a heat-trapping greenhouse gas.
  • They also serve as the foundation of the aquatic food web.
X

Verifying, please be patient.

Enquire Now