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Ocean impacts of Cyclone Idai

Date: 
Thursday, April 11, 2019

Cyclone Idai was a major tropical storm that made landfall in Africa, an unusual case, that had unfortunate consequences in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi with severe flooding and loss of life.

The ocean response to Cyclone Idai is examined using PO.DAAC’s State Of The Ocean (SOTO) visualization tool.  Strong vertical mixing and upwelling of cold, nutrient rich waters prompted immediate sea surface temperature cooling followed by localized chlorophyll-a blooms. Both blooms occurred offshore in deep, oligotrophic (nutrient poor) ocean waters. Nutrient injection into the upper ocean stimulated photosynthesis that lasted for several days, thus the chlorophyll-a blooms. Ocean responses like that to Cyclone Ida have been well cited in literature (e.g., Gierach and Subrahmanyam, 2008; Liu et al. 2009).