Hurricane-Induced Marine Nutrient and Carbon Responses in the Upper Ocean

Laura Celeste McGee, North Carolina State University Raleigh, Raleigh, NC, United States and Ruoying He, North Carolina State University, Marine, Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences, Raleigh, United States
Hurricanes alter air-sea carbon flux through both physical and biological processes. This study

performs and analyzes a series of idealized and realistic coupled physical-biological modeling

case studies to explore the relative importance of the intrinsic physical and biological

mechanisms behind hurricane-induced right-hand bias, changes in the upper ocean nutrient

content, and partial pressure of carbon dioxide in water (pCO2w). Our model analyses show that

for storms with slower translation speeds, hurricane-induced upper ocean nutrient enhancement

and phytoplankton blooms can be just as important as sea surface temperature decrease in

reducing pCO2w. For storms with faster translation speeds, only physical factors influence

pCO2w. As patterns of hurricane intensity and translation speed are expected to vary

significantly in the face of climate change, the development of coupled air-sea

physical-biological models that can accurately model synoptic, mesoscale, and submesoscale

ocean responses is much needed to fully understand the ocean’s role in the global carbon budget.