Phytoplankton blooms

Population dynamics in flows

Harmful algal blooms (HABs) characterize a seemingly random and very rapid increase of a phytoplankton species that releases toxic chemicals. In nature it is not always possible to associate the occurrence of harmful algal blooms (HABs) to upwelling events, although it is widely believed that additional nutrient input should always boost the growth of algae. Coupling a kinematic flow field with a biological model, by means of a reaction-advection-diffusion model, we were able to systematically analyse the diversity of possible responses of the plankton community, and demonstrate how it depends on the advection of nutrients. Our results demonstrate that the mesoscale hydrodynamic structure of the flow at the moment of the upwelling determines whether a HAB will occur or not.


  • Numerical modelling of the effect of intermittent upwelling events on plankton blooms K Guseva, U Feudel Journal of the Royal Society Interface 17 (165), 20190889 code