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New evidence based on recent satellite data is presented to provide a rare opportunity in quantifying the long-speculated contribution of tropical cyclones to enhance ocean primary production. In July 2000, moderate cyclone Kai-Tak passed over the South China Sea (SCS). During its short 3-day stay, Kai-Tak triggered an average 30-fold increase in surface chlorophyll-a concentration. The estimated carbon fixation resulting from this event alone is 0.8 Mt, or 2–4% of SCS's annual new production. Given an average of 14 cyclones passing over the SCS annually, we suggest the long-neglected contribution of tropical cyclones to SCS's annual new production may be as much as 20–30%.

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Geophysical Research Letters, v. 30, issue 13, art. 1718

©2003. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.

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