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Potential impacts of tropical cyclones on pelagic Sargassum
  • Chuanmin Hu
Chuanmin Hu
University of South Florida

Corresponding Author:huc@usf.edu

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In a recent study, Sosa-Gutierrez et al. (2022, https://doi.org/10.1029/2021GL097484) evaluated the potential impacts of tropical cyclones (TCs) on the Atlantic pelagic Sargassum using satellite-based Sargassum maps, 86 hurricane tracks during 2011 – 2020, and statistical analysis. The results showed an average drop of 40% in Sargassum coverage under TC trajectories, attributed to Sargassum sinking. However, there appear two issues: 1) the Sargassum maps contain large uncertainties due to methodology used in developing the maps. The impacts of these uncertainties on change detection are largely unknown, especially along the TC trajectories where cloud cover prevails; 2) there is a lack of a “control” experiment in the logic to infer causality. Based on these observations and arguments, while it is possible that TCs may have significant impacts, either positively or negatively, on pelagic Sargassum, a revisit appears necessary to use improved Sargassum maps and better experimental design before drawing conclusions.