Center for Coastal Physical Oceanography

2010 Fall Seminar Series


Helga do Rosario Gomes
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University

Monday, November 8, 2010
3:30 PM
Room 3200, Innovation Research Park Building I


Our collaboration in a large-scale and ongoing study conducted by the National Institute of Oceanography, Goa, India from 2003 onwards has documented for the first time ever the appearance of extensive blooms of the large dinoflagellate, Noctiluca miliaris Suriray in late winter and early spring for several consecutive years. Thick, surface blooms of N. miliaris Suriray (synonym Noctiluca scintillans Macartney), have begun to appear with increased frequency and intensity in February-March following the Northeast winter monsoon replacing the conventional diatoms blooms seen during the JGOFS in the early 1990s and the International Indian Ocean Expeditions of 1959-1965. The extraordinary intensity of these blooms and their unprecedented persistent, annual appearance requires that we begin to question their implications for the ocean carbon cycle and to possible changing phytoplankton diversity associated with climate change in this region.

This presentation showcases the extraordinary bio-optical and eco-physiological characteristics of these blooms from studies conducted on recent cruises in the region. Microscopic phytoplankton cell counts show that 80% of satellite-derived Chl a in the February-March ocean color images was from N. miliaris blooms. Bio-optical data suggest that the unique characteristics of N. miliaris, i.e., its large size, its distinct pgment and spectral absorption characteristics make it a promising organism for detection from remotely-sensed water-leaving reflectance while eco-physiological experiments point to the unique conditions that promote the growth of N. miliaris over and above other phytoplankton as well as the interaction of this organism with other components of the food chain.


Dr. Gomes received a B.Sc. in Chemistry, a M.Sc. in Microbiology, and a Ph.D. in Oceanography, all from Bombay University in India. She was a research scientist at Bigelow Laboratories for Ocean Sciences for about 10 years and recently took a position as a research scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University. Her research interests include using bio-optics and satellite data to study the effects of climate change on the oceans' biodiversity, especially the changing biodiversity of the Indian Ocean; developing satellite-based methods to measure ocean productivity from space; and investigating the consequences of enhanced ultraviolet (UV) radiation on photosynthetic biochemistry in marine ecosystems.

Reception before seminar at 3:00 PM

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