Oct. 1, 2021
Australian bushfires triggered algal blooms
Smoke from Australia’s 2019-2020 bushfires stimulated large algal blooms that could be seen from space
A new study in Nature, suggests that nutrient-rich aerosols generated by the record Australian bushfire season were ‘sucked up’ by a gigantic phytoplankton bloom thousands of kilometres away in the Pacific Southern Ocean.
The extensive phytoplankton blooms are said to have covered an area approximately the size of the Sahara Desert, more than 9.4 million sq km.
The researchers monitored aerosol plumes using data from the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) which include aerosol information from NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS). They then compared the aerosol observations to ocean chlorophyll concentrations recording by ESA’s Ocean Colour Climate Change Initiative project and found peaks in chlorophyll concentrations a few days to weeks later.