FRIPP-2: Frontal dynamics influencing Primary Production: investigating the onset of the spring bloom mechanism through gliders

User group PI: Antonio Olita, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Italy

Hosting infrastructure: SOCIB glider facility, Spain

Main Objectives

The proposed research is to be carried out in the Algero-Provencal Basin, and specifically along and across the Front separating Provencal and Algerian sub Basin named North Balearic Front. This front was sampled during the GABS project, a JERICO-TNA proposal funded during the first JERICO-FP7 call whose main objective was to investigate the intermediatewater masses variability. During GABS the glider was programmed to sample down to 1000 meters but during the operations, by chance, the front was intercepted. Neverthless, we were able to capture the bloom initiation in coincidence of the inversion of heat fluxes, and consequent shutdown of turbulent convection (Olita et al. 2014).

FRIPP-2 aims to study, through a multisensor sea-glider mission supported by modeled and remotely-sensed data, the impact of frontal dynamics on the Phytoplankton production and distribution as inferred from fluorometric, PAR (desirable) and CTD measurements during the onset of the bloom across frontal areas were the onset of the stratification is enhanced by dynamics and where we already observed that the spring bloom shows its first and early footprint within the Mediterranean Basin.

The specific objectives are the following:

  1. Observe the dynamics of the front in terms of: horizontal and vertical velocities; instabilities; mixing and enhanced dynamical stratification.
  2. Study the impact of such frontal dynamics on new production and on displacement of phytoplanktonic biomass in a well mixed regime, during the first onset of the early spring bloom, and characterize phytoplankton community composition through an Optical Community Index

Reference: Olita A., Sparnocchia S., Cusí S., L. Fazioli L., Sorgente R., Tintoré J., Ribotti A.: Observations of a phytoplankton spring bloom onset triggered by a density front in NW Mediterranean. Ocean Sci., 10, 657–666, 2014,, doi: 10.5194/os-10-657-2014.