Warming Oceans, Phytoplankton, and River Discharge: Implications for Cholera Outbreaks

Antarpreet S. Jutla Water and Environmental Research, Education and Actionable Solutions Network (WE REASoN), Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts; The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts; Global Health, Public Health and Professional Degree Programs, Tufts University School of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, Tufts University School of Medicine, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, School of Engineering, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts; Institute for Advanced Computer Studies, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland

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Ali S. Akanda Water and Environmental Research, Education and Actionable Solutions Network (WE REASoN), Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts; The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts; Global Health, Public Health and Professional Degree Programs, Tufts University School of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, Tufts University School of Medicine, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, School of Engineering, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts; Institute for Advanced Computer Studies, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland

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Jeffrey K. Griffiths Water and Environmental Research, Education and Actionable Solutions Network (WE REASoN), Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts; The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts; Global Health, Public Health and Professional Degree Programs, Tufts University School of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, Tufts University School of Medicine, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, School of Engineering, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts; Institute for Advanced Computer Studies, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland

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Rita Colwell Water and Environmental Research, Education and Actionable Solutions Network (WE REASoN), Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts; The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts; Global Health, Public Health and Professional Degree Programs, Tufts University School of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, Tufts University School of Medicine, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, School of Engineering, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts; Institute for Advanced Computer Studies, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland

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Shafiqul Islam Water and Environmental Research, Education and Actionable Solutions Network (WE REASoN), Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts; The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts; Global Health, Public Health and Professional Degree Programs, Tufts University School of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, Tufts University School of Medicine, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, School of Engineering, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts; Institute for Advanced Computer Studies, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland

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Phytoplankton abundance is inversely related to sea surface temperature (SST). However, a positive relationship is observed between SST and phytoplankton abundance in coastal waters of Bay of Bengal. This has led to an assertion that in a warming climate, rise in SST may increase phytoplankton blooms and, therefore, cholera outbreaks. Here, we explain why a positive SST-phytoplankton relationship exists in the Bay of Bengal and the implications of such a relationship on cholera dynamics. We found clear evidence of two independent physical drivers for phytoplankton abundance. The first one is the widely accepted phytoplankton blooming produced by the upwelling of cold, nutrient-rich deep ocean waters. The second, which explains the Bay of Bengal findings, is coastal phytoplankton blooming during high river discharges with terrestrial nutrients. Causal mechanisms should be understood when associating SST with phytoplankton and subsequent cholera outbreaks in regions where freshwater discharge are a predominant mechanism for phytoplankton production.

Author Notes

*Address correspondence to Shafiqul Islam, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Tufts University, Medford, MA 02155. E-mail: Shafiqul.islam@tufts.edu

Authors' addresses: Antarpreet S. Jutla, Water and Environmental Research, Education and Actionable Solutions Network (WE REASoN), Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Tufts University, Medford, MA, E-mail: antarpreet.jutla@tufts.edu. Ali S. Akanda, Water and Environmental Research, Education and Actionable Solutions Network (WE REASoN), Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Tufts University, Medford, MA, E-mail: ali.akanda@tufts.edu. Jeffrey K. Griffiths, Director, Global Health, Public Health and Professional Degree Programs, Tufts University School of Medicine, Associate Professor of Public Health and of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, Tufts University School of Medicine, Adjunct Associate Professor, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Adjunct Associate Professor, School of Engineering, Adjunct Associate Professor, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, Medford, MA, E-mail: jeffrey.griffiths@tufts.edu. Rita Colwell, Institute for Advanced Computer Studies, University of Maryland, College Park, MD, E-mail: rcolwell@umiacs.umd.edu. Shafiqul Islam, Water and Environmental Research, Education and Actionable Solutions Network (WE REASoN), The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Tufts University, Medford, MA 02155, E-mail: Shafiqul.islam@tufts.edu.

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