MODIS-Aqua detects Noctiluca scintillans and hotspots in the central Arabian Sea
Northern Arabian Sea is considered as an ecologically sensitive area as it experiences a massive upwelling and long-lasting algal bloom, Noctiluca scintillans (green tide) during summer and spring-winter, respectively. Diatom bloom is also found to be co-located with N. scintillans and both have an impact on ecology of the basin. In-house technique of detecting species of these blooms from Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS)-Aqua data was used to generate a time-series of images revealing their spatial distribution. A study of spatial-temporal variability of these blooms using satellite data expressed a cyclic pattern of their spread over a period of 13 years. An average distribution of the blooms for January–March period revealed a peak in 2015 and minimum in 2013. Subsequently, a time-series of phytoplankton species images were generated for these 2 years to study their inter-annual variability and the associated factors. Species images during active phase of the bloom (February) in 2015 indicated development of N. scintillans and diatom in the central Arabian Sea also, up to 12° N. This observation was substantiated with relevant oceanic parameters measured from the ship as well as satellite data and the same is highlight of the paper. While oxygen depletion and release of ammonia associated with N. scintillans are detrimental for waters on the western side; it is relatively less extreme and supports the entire food chain on the eastern side. In view of these contrasting eco-sensitive events, it is a matter of concern to identify biologically active persistent areas, hot spots, in order to study their ecology in detail. An ecological index, persistence of the bloom, was derived from the time-series of species images and it is another highlight of our study.
KeywordsAlgal bloom Noctiluca scintillans Hot spots Remote sensing Arabian Sea
Access of Level 3 MODIS data from NASA’s Ocean Color Web, value-added products from ERDDAP data server, APDRC site of IPRC and Giovanni data portal are gratefully acknowledged. Authors are thankful to Dr. Shailesh Nayak, Secretary Ministry of Earth Sciences, New Delhi for encouraging response through e-mails at various stages of development of this work.
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