Past studies have shown that surface chlorophyll-a concentrations increase in the wake of hurricanes. Given the reported increase in the intensity of North Atlantic hurricanes in recent years, increasing chlorophyll-a concentrations, perhaps an indication of increasing biological productivity, would be an expected consequence. However, in order to understand the impact of variable hurricane activity on ocean biology, the magnitude of the hurricane-induced chlorophyll increase relative to other events that stir or mix the upper ocean must be assessed. This study investigates the upper ocean biological response to tropical cyclones in the North Atlantic from 1997-2005. Specifically, we quantitatively compare the anomalous chlorophyll-a concentrations created by cyclone activity to the total distribution of anomalies in the subtropical waters. We show that the cyclone-induced chlorophyll-a increase has minimal impact on the integrated biomass budget, a result that holds even when taking into consideration the lagged and asymmetrical response of ocean color. Copyright 2008 by the American Geophysical Union.
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Integrated impact of tropical cyclones on sea surface chlorophyll in the North Atlantic