Stramma Lothar

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  • Article
    Circulation, eddies, oxygen, and nutrient changes in the eastern tropical South Pacific Ocean
    (Copernicus Publications on behalf of the European Geosciences Union, 2015-06-22) Czeschel, Rena ; Stramma, Lothar ; Weller, Robert A. ; Fischer, Tim
    A large subsurface oxygen deficiency zone is located in the eastern tropical South Pacific Ocean (ETSP). The large-scale circulation in the eastern equatorial Pacific and off the coast of Peru in November/December 2012 shows the influence of the equatorial current system, the eastern boundary currents, and the northern reaches of the subtropical gyre. In November 2012 the equatorial undercurrent (EUC) is centered at 250 m depth, deeper than in earlier observations. In December 2012, the equatorial water is transported southeastward near the shelf in the Peru–Chile undercurrent (PCUC) with a mean transport of 1.4 Sv. In the oxygen minimum zone (OMZ), the flow is overlaid with strong eddy activity on the poleward side of the OMZ. Floats with parking depth at 400 m show fast westward flow in the mid-depth equatorial channel and sluggish flow in the OMZ. Floats with oxygen sensors clearly show the passage of eddies with oxygen anomalies. The long-term float observations in the upper ocean lead to a net community production estimate at about 18° S of up to 16.7 mmol C m−3 yr−1 extrapolated to an annual rate and 7.7 mmol C m−3 yr−1 for the time period below the mixed layer. Oxygen differences between repeated ship sections are influenced by the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation (IPO), by the phase of El Niño, by seasonal changes, and by eddies, and hence have to be interpreted with care. At and south of the Equator the decrease in oxygen in the upper ocean since 1976 is related to an increase in nitrate, phosphate, and in part silicate.
  • Article
    N-loss isotope effects in the Peru oxygen minimum zone studied using a mesoscale eddy as a natural tracer experiment
    (John Wiley & Sons, 2015-06-06) Bourbonnais, Annie ; Altabet, Mark A. ; Charoenpong, Chawalit N. ; Larkum, Jennifer ; Hu, Haibei ; Bange, Hermann W. ; Stramma, Lothar
    Mesoscale eddies in Oxygen Minimum Zones (OMZs) have been identified as important fixed nitrogen (N) loss hotspots that may significantly impact both the global rate of N-loss as well as the ocean's N isotope budget. They also represent “natural tracer experiments” with intensified biogeochemical signals that can be exploited to understand the large-scale processes that control N-loss and associated isotope effects (ε; the ‰ deviation from 1 in the ratio of reaction rate constants for the light versus heavy isotopologues). We observed large ranges in the concentrations and N and O isotopic compositions of nitrate (NO3−), nitrite (NO2−), and biogenic N2 associated with an anticyclonic mode-water eddy in the Peru OMZ during two cruises in November and December 2012. In the eddy's center where NO3− was nearly exhausted, we measured the highest δ15N values for both NO3− and NO2− (up to ~70‰ and 50‰) ever reported for an OMZ. Correspondingly, N deficit and biogenic N2-N concentrations were also the highest near the eddy's center (up to ~40 µmol L−1). δ15N-N2 also varied with biogenic N2 production, following kinetic isotopic fractionation during NO2− reduction to N2 and, for the first time, provided an independent assessment of N isotope fractionation during OMZ N-loss. We found apparent variable ε for NO3− reduction (up to ~30‰ in the presence of NO2−). However, the overall ε for N-loss was calculated to be only ~13–14‰ (as compared to canonical values of ~20–30‰) assuming a closed system and only slightly higher assuming an open system (16–19‰). Our results were similar whether calculated from the disappearance of DIN (NO3− + NO2−) or from the appearance of N2 and changes in isotopic composition. Further, we calculated the separate ε values for NO3− reduction to NO2− and NO2− reduction to N2 of ~16–21‰ and ~12‰, respectively, when the effect of NO2− oxidation could be removed. These results, together with the relationship between N and O of NO3− isotopes and the difference in δ15N between NO3− and NO2−, confirm a role for NO2− oxidation in increasing the apparent ε associated with NO3− reduction. The lower ε for N-loss calculated in this study could help reconcile the current imbalance in the global N budget if representative of global OMZ N-loss.
  • Article
    Transport, properties, and life cycles of mesoscale eddies in the eastern tropical South Pacific
    (Copernicus Publications on behalf of the European Geosciences Union, 2018-07-31) Czeschel, Rena ; Schütte, Florian ; Weller, Robert A. ; Stramma, Lothar
    The influence of mesoscale eddies on the flow field and the water masses, especially the oxygen distribution of the eastern tropical South Pacific, is investigated from a mooring, float, and satellite data set. Two anticyclonic (ACE1/2), one mode-water (MWE), and one cyclonic eddy (CE) are identified and followed in detail with satellite data on their westward transition with velocities of 3.2 to 6.0cms−1 from their generation region, the shelf of the Peruvian and Chilean upwelling regime, across the Stratus Ocean Reference Station (ORS;  ∼ 20°S, 85°W) to their decaying region far west in the oligotrophic open ocean. The ORS is located in the transition zone between the oxygen minimum zone and the well oxygenated South Pacific subtropical gyre. Velocity, hydrographic, and oxygen measurements at the mooring show the impact of eddies on the weak flow region of the eastern tropical South Pacific. Strong anomalies are related to the passage of eddies and are not associated with a seasonal signal in the open ocean. The mass transport of the four observed eddies across 85°W is between 1.1 and 1.8Sv. The eddy type-dependent available heat, salt, and oxygen anomalies are 8.1×1018J (ACE2), 1.0×1018J (MWE), and −8.9×1018J (CE) for heat; 25.2×1010kg (ACE2), −3.1×1010kg (MWE), and −41.5×1010kg (CE) for salt; and −3.6×1016µmol (ACE2), −3.5×1016µmol (MWE), and −6.5×1016µmol (CE) for oxygen showing a strong imbalance between anticyclones and cyclones for salt transports probably due to seasonal variability in water mass properties in the formation region of the eddies. Heat, salt, and oxygen fluxes out of the coastal region across the ORS region in the oligotrophic open South Pacific are estimated based on these eddy anomalies and on eddy statistics (gained out of 23 years of satellite data). Furthermore, four profiling floats were trapped in the ACE2 during its westward propagation between the formation region and the open ocean, which allows for conclusions on lateral mixing of water mass properties with time between the core of the eddy and the surrounding water. The strongest lateral mixing was found between the seasonal thermocline and the eddy core during the first half of the eddy lifetime.
  • Article
    Eddies and an extreme water mass anomaly observed in the eastern south Pacific at the Stratus mooring
    (John Wiley & Sons, 2014-02-12) Stramma, Lothar ; Weller, Robert A. ; Czeschel, Rena ; Bigorre, Sebastien P.
    In the tropical eastern South Pacific the Stratus Ocean Reference Station (ORS) (∼20°S, 85.5°W) is located in the transition zone between the oxygen minimum zone (OMZ) and the well-oxygenated subtropical gyre. In February/March 2012, extremely anomalous water mass properties were observed in the thermocline at the Stratus ORS. The available eddy oxygen anomaly was −10.5 × 1016 µmol. This anomalous water was contained in an anticyclonic mode-water eddy crossing the mooring site. This eddy was absorbed at that time by an anticyclonic feature located south of the Stratus mooring. This was the largest water property anomaly observed at the mooring during the 13.5 month deployment period. The sea surface height anomaly (SSHA) of the strong mode-water eddy in February/March 2012 was weak, and while the lowest and highest SSHA were related to weak eddies, SSHA is found not to be sufficient to specify the eddy strength for subsurface-intensified eddies. Still, the anticyclonic eddy, and its related water mass characteristics, could be tracked backward in time in SSHA satellite data to a formation region in April 2011 off the Chilean coast. The resulting mean westward propagation velocity was 5.5 cm s−1. This extremely long-lived eddy carried the water characteristics from the near-coastal Chilean water to the open ocean. The water mass stayed isolated during the 11 month travel time due to high rotational speed of about 20 cm s−1 leading to almost zero oxygen in the subsurface layer of the anticyclonic mode-water eddy with indications of high primary production just below the mixed layer.