In October of 2016, a tropical storm was forming in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and meteorologists named it Hurricane Nicole. It roamed the area and caused major devastation as it moved to reach Category 4 hurricane with 140 per mile sustained winds. When it hit the tiny island of Bermuda, it went down as Category 3.
Hurricanes that fall under the category of Nicole cause significant, sometimes irreversible, damages to human structures and to human life. They permanently alter the terrain and landscapes of the Earth, but these storms have a strong impact on the oceans too.
A team of researchers is conducting a new study of Hurricane Nicole at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) in collaboration with the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS). According to the study, the team of researchers concluded that Hurricane Nicole has a significant effect on the carbon cycle of the ocean as well as the deep-sea ecosystem.
The new report whose details have been published in the Geophysical Research Letters, BIOS and MBL provides direct evidence that hurricanes have a strong impact on the ocean's biological pump. This is the process wherein living organisms transfer carbon from the top layer of the ocean to the deep parts of the water until it reaches the seafloor.
The high-velocity winds that were associated with Hurricane Nicole were able to generate an intense cooling of the surface as well as strong underwater waves. Some of these effects stayed in the ocean for more than two weeks. This effect basically accelerated the biological pump which led the waves to push the nutrients towards the surface layer of the ocean. This in turn triggered the algae to bloom.
The biological pump that was supercharged rapidly funneled the organic materials gathered after the hurricane induced the growth of algae on the surface water of the ocean. This provided marine life with an extra boost of food source, particularly in the deep parts of the ocean where sunlight usually doesn't reach. The researchers were able to find a substantial amount of organic materials and nutrients about 10,500 feet below the surface. These findings are rather unusual.
"The surface of the ocean are the primary receivers of the aftermath of a storm. However, the results of the study shows that the storm may have its positive impacts on the deeper parts of the oceans, allowing life to flourish," explained Rut Pedrosa Pamies, an oceanographer of MBL and first author of the study. "The material reaching the deeper parts of the ocean are crucial for the growth and balance in the deeper water ecosystem."
With the latest technologies available, the study of the deeper parts of the ocean is now possible. The last frontier may finally be within humanity's reach.