Sargassum proliferation is becoming the new norm in the North Atlantic Ocean, as recent years (2018-2022) have been very high in Sargassum coverage seen by satellite (Podlejski et al. 2022), and stranding on Caribbean (DEAL 2021) and African coastlines (P. Cecchi, pers. comm.). This proliferation can only be understood by combining knowledge on the environment of Sargassum, the Atlantic Ocean climate, and the biology of the algae. The main question is what are the key drivers of the growth and survival of the algae. To answer this question, we will focus on the individual response of Sargassum morphotypes to environmental conditions, and take advantage of sampling on both sides of the Tropical Atlantic Ocean. Then this knowledge will be integrated in a basin scale modeling effort to simulate seasonal and interannual patterns of growth.

The figure shows the sampling sites, coastal and during cruises, overlaid on the annual average distribution of Sargassum coverage (% cover, 50km resolution, see Podlejski et al 2022).

Podlejski, W. et al. (2022) Filtering out false Sargassum detections using context features. Frontiers in Marine Science. 9:960939.