Peterson P.

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  • Article
    Bio-optical footprints created by mesoscale eddies in the Sargasso Sea
    (American Geophysical Union, 2011-07-14) Siegel, David A. ; Peterson, P. ; McGillicuddy, Dennis J. ; Maritorena, S. ; Nelson, Norman B.
    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.