When is Dinner Served? Predicting the Spring Phytoplankton Bloom in the Gulf of Maine

Denise Blaha, Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space, University of New Hampshire, denise.blaha@unh.edu
Amy Holt Cline, Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space, University of New Hampshire, amy.cline@unh.edu

Published: September 2004. Last Updated: May 2012.


diatom phytoplankton that bloom in the Gulf of Maine
Phytoplankton are microscopic plants that form the base of the marine food chain. Though they are small, the energy they capture from the sun through photosynthesis helps to sustain almost all life in the ocean. They're also important to life on landphytoplankton produce more than half of Earth's oxygen supply.

In this chapter, you will learn about the variables that influence the abundance of phytoplankton. By using this knowledge, you will make predictions about the timing of the spring phytoplankton bloom in the Gulf of Maine. Data from buoy monitoring stations can then be graphed and interpreted to assist in making predictions. Examination of the chlorophyll concentration data at each buoy provides further ability to check your predictions. You will then also compare your predictions with reality by obtaining and examining Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) images to view the full extent of the bloom over time.

This chapter is part of the Earth Exploration Toolbook. Each chapter provides teachers and/or students with direct practice for using scientific tools to analyze Earth science data. Students should begin on the Case Study page.

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