Skidaway Institute, Ga. Tech-Savannah study winter blooms - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Skidaway Institute, Ga. Tech-Savannah study winter blooms

Skidaway Institute researchers lower a glider into a tank of water to adjust buoyancy and trim. (l-r) Trent Moore, Dongsik Chang, Charles Robertson and Julie Amft. (Source: Skidaway Institute) Skidaway Institute researchers lower a glider into a tank of water to adjust buoyancy and trim. (l-r) Trent Moore, Dongsik Chang, Charles Robertson and Julie Amft. (Source: Skidaway Institute)
Skidaway Institute researchers (l-r) Catherine Edwards, Trent Moore, Julie Amft and Jim Nelson examine a glider. (Source: Skidaway Institute) Skidaway Institute researchers (l-r) Catherine Edwards, Trent Moore, Julie Amft and Jim Nelson examine a glider. (Source: Skidaway Institute)

Skidaway Institute of Oceanography scientists Jim Nelson and Catherine Edwards looked at satellite imagery of the ocean off the Carolinas, they noticed persistent blooms of phytoplankton, which is an important part of the marine food web, according to the institute.

The mysterious blooms occurred during the winter along edge of the continental shelf off Long Bay -- located between Cape Romain, South Carolina and Cape Fear, North Carolina. These phytoplankton blooms can be a considerable boost to the bottom of the food chain, which can have significant implications for fisheries.

"The immediate cause of the blooms is an input of nutrients, like nitrogen and phosphorous, associated with transport and mixing of deep, cold onto the continental shelf," said Edwards in a statement. "The Long Bay blooms persist for weeks or even months during the winter, suggesting multiple modes of nutrient input."

Edwards and Nelson are teaming with Harvey Seim from the University of North Carolina and Fumin Zhang from Georgia Tech-Savannah trying to find out why the blooms are so persistent over the winter and the dynamics that sustain the bloom, according to the institute.

The three-year project is funded by a $1.6 million grant from the National Science Foundation supporting a team of scientists from all three institutions.

Skidaway Institute research coordinators Trent Moore, Julie Amft and Charles Robertson will help the project team deploy moored and mobile instrument packages and conduct shipboard surveys to test hypotheses of how the winter blooms are formed and sustained.  

Members of the research team will spend much of the winter of 2012 aboard the Skidaway Institute research vessel R/V Savannah, conducting experiments and collecting data.

Copyright 2011 WTOC. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly