Bio-optical footprints created by mesoscale eddies in the Sargasso Sea
Siegel, David A.
McGillicuddy, Dennis J.
Nelson, N. B.
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We investigate the bio-optical footprints made by mesoscale eddies in the Sargasso Sea and the processes that create them through an eddy-centric approach. Many (>10,000) eddies are identified and followed in time using satellite altimetry observations and the spatial ocean color patterns surrounding each eddy are assessed. We find through a sequence of statistical hypothesis tests that not one but several mechanisms (i.e., eddy pumping, eddy advection and eddy-Ekman pumping) are responsible for the spatial-temporal ocean color patterns following individual eddies. Both eddy pumping and the eddy-Ekman pumping mechanisms alter subsurface nutrient distributions thereby driving biogeochemical cycles, while the eddy advection mechanism to first order stirs existing horizontal gradients in bio-optical properties. This work illustrates both the promise and some of the limitations of satellite observations for assessing the biogeochemical impacts of mesoscale eddies.
Author Posting. © American Geophysical Union, 2011. This article is posted here by permission of American Geophysical Union for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Geophysical Research Letters 38 (2011): L13608, doi:10.1029/2011GL047660.
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