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ArticleEffects of oceanic mesoscale and submesoscale frontal processes on the vertical transport of phytoplankton(American Geophysical Union, 2019-07-23) Ruiz, Simon ; Claret, Mariona ; Pascual, Ananda ; Olita, Antonio ; Troupin, Charles ; Capet, Arthur ; Tovar-Sánchez, Antonio ; Allen, John T. ; Poulain, Pierre Marie ; Tintoré, Joaquín ; Mahadevan, AmalaOceanic fronts are dynamically active regions of the global ocean that support upwelling and downwelling with significant implications for phytoplankton production and export. However (on time scales urn:x-wiley:jgrc:media:jgrc23568:jgrc23568-math-0001 the inertial time scale), the vertical velocity is 103–104 times weaker than the horizontal velocity and is difficult to observe directly. Using intensive field observations in conjunction with a process study ocean model, we examine vertical motion and its effect on phytoplankton fluxes at multiple spatial horizontal scales in an oligotrophic region in the Western Mediterranean Sea. The mesoscale ageostrophic vertical velocity (∼10 m/day) inferred from our observations shapes the large‐scale phytoplankton distribution but does not explain the narrow (1–10 km wide) features of high chlorophyll content extending 40–60 m downward from the deep chlorophyll maximum. Using modeling, we show that downwelling submesoscale features concentrate 80% of the downward vertical flux of phytoplankton within just 15% of the horizontal area. These submesoscale spatial structures serve as conduits between the surface mixed layer and pycnocline and can contribute to exporting carbon from the sunlit surface layers to the ocean interior.
ArticleThe LatMix summer campaign : submesoscale stirring in the upper ocean(American Meteorological Society, 2015-08) Shcherbina, Andrey Y. ; Sundermeyer, Miles A. ; Kunze, Eric ; D'Asaro, Eric A. ; Badin, Gualtiero ; Birch, Daniel ; Brunner-Suzuki, Anne-Marie E. G. ; Callies, Joern ; Cervantes, Brandy T. Kuebel ; Claret, Mariona ; Concannon, Brian ; Early, Jeffrey ; Ferrari, Raffaele ; Goodman, Louis ; Harcourt, Ramsey R. ; Klymak, Jody M. ; Lee, Craig M. ; Lelong, M.-Pascale ; Levine, Murray D. ; Lien, Ren-Chieh ; Mahadevan, Amala ; McWilliams, James C. ; Molemaker, M. Jeroen ; Mukherjee, Sonaljit ; Nash, Jonathan D. ; Ozgokmen, Tamay M. ; Pierce, Stephen D. ; Ramachandran, Sanjiv ; Samelson, Roger M. ; Sanford, Thomas B. ; Shearman, R. Kipp ; Skyllingstad, Eric D. ; Smith, K. Shafer ; Tandon, Amit ; Taylor, John R. ; Terray, Eugene A. ; Thomas, Leif N. ; Ledwell, James R.Lateral stirring is a basic oceanographic phenomenon affecting the distribution of physical, chemical, and biological fields. Eddy stirring at scales on the order of 100 km (the mesoscale) is fairly well understood and explicitly represented in modern eddy-resolving numerical models of global ocean circulation. The same cannot be said for smaller-scale stirring processes. Here, the authors describe a major oceanographic field experiment aimed at observing and understanding the processes responsible for stirring at scales of 0.1–10 km. Stirring processes of varying intensity were studied in the Sargasso Sea eddy field approximately 250 km southeast of Cape Hatteras. Lateral variability of water-mass properties, the distribution of microscale turbulence, and the evolution of several patches of inert dye were studied with an array of shipboard, autonomous, and airborne instruments. Observations were made at two sites, characterized by weak and moderate background mesoscale straining, to contrast different regimes of lateral stirring. Analyses to date suggest that, in both cases, the lateral dispersion of natural and deliberately released tracers was O(1) m2 s–1 as found elsewhere, which is faster than might be expected from traditional shear dispersion by persistent mesoscale flow and linear internal waves. These findings point to the possible importance of kilometer-scale stirring by submesoscale eddies and nonlinear internal-wave processes or the need to modify the traditional shear-dispersion paradigm to include higher-order effects. A unique aspect of the Scalable Lateral Mixing and Coherent Turbulence (LatMix) field experiment is the combination of direct measurements of dye dispersion with the concurrent multiscale hydrographic and turbulence observations, enabling evaluation of the underlying mechanisms responsible for the observed dispersion at a new level.
ArticleA multiplatform experiment to unravel meso- and submesoscale processes in an intense front (AlborEx).(Frontiers Media, 2017-02-21) Pascual, Ananda ; Ruiz, Simon ; Olita, Antonio ; Troupin, Charles ; Claret, Mariona ; Casas, Benjamin ; Mourre, Baptiste ; Poulain, Pierre Marie ; Tovar-Sanchez, Antonio ; Capet, Arthur ; Mason, Evan ; Allen, John T. ; Mahadevan, Amala ; Tintoré, JoaquínThe challenges associated with meso- and submesoscale variability (between 1 and 100 km) require high-resolution observations and integrated approaches. Here we describe a major oceanographic experiment designed to capture the intense but transient vertical motions in an area characterized by strong fronts. Finescale processes were studied in the eastern Alboran Sea (Western Mediterranean) about 400 km east of the Strait of Gibraltar, a relatively sparsely sampled area. In-situ systems were coordinated with satellite data and numerical simulations to provide a full description of the physical and biogeochemical variability. Hydrographic data confirmed the presence of an intense salinity front formed by the confluence of Atlantic Waters, entering from Gibraltar, with the local Mediterranean waters. The drifters coherently followed the northeastern limb of an anticyclonic gyre. Near real time data from acoustic current meter data profiler showed consistent patterns with currents of up to 1 m/s in the southern part of the sampled domain. High-resolution glider data revealed submesoscale structures with tongues of chlorophyll-a and oxygen associated with the frontal zone. Numerical results show large vertical excursions of tracers that could explain the subducted tongues and filaments captured by ocean gliders. A unique aspect of AlborEx is the combination of high-resolution synoptic measurements of vessel-based measurements, autonomous sampling, remote sensing and modeling, enabling the evaluation of the underlying mechanisms responsible for the observed distributions and biogeochemical patchiness. The main findings point to the importance of fine-scale processes enhancing the vertical exchanges between the upper ocean and the ocean interior.
PreprintFrontal dynamics boost primary production in the summer stratified Mediterranean sea( 2017-05) Olita, Antonio ; Capet, Arthur ; Claret, Mariona ; Mahadevan, Amala ; Poulain, Pierre Marie ; Ribotti, Alberto ; Ruiz, Simon ; Tintoré, Joaquín ; Tovar-Sánchez, Antonio ; Pascual, AnandaBio-physical glider measurements from a unique process-oriented experiment in the Eastern Alboran Sea (AlborEx) allowed us to observe the distribution of the deep chlorophyll maximum (DCM) across an intense density front, with a resolution (∼ 400 m) suitable for investigating sub-mesoscale dynamics. This front, at the interface between Atlantic and Mediterranean waters, had a sharp density gradient (Δρ ∼ 1 kg/m3 in ∼ 10 km) and showed imprints of (sub-)mesoscale phenomena on tracer distributions. Specifically, the chlorophyll-a concentration within the DCM showed a disrupted pattern along isopycnal surfaces, with patches bearing a relationship to the stratification (buoyancy frequency) at depths between 30 and 60 m. In order to estimate the primary production (PP) rate within the chlorophyll patches observed at the sub-surface, we applied the Morel and Andrè (J Geophys Res 96:685–698 1991) bio-optical model using the photosynthetic active radiation (PAR) from Argo profiles collected simultaneously with glider data. The highest production was located concurrently with domed isopycnals on the fresh side of the front, suggestive that (sub-)mesoscale upwelling is carrying phytoplankton patches from less to more illuminated levels, with a contemporaneous delivering of nutrients. Integrated estimations of PP (1.3 g C m−2d−1) along the glider path are two to four times larger than the estimations obtained from satellite-based algorithms, i.e., derived from the 8-day composite fields extracted over the glider trip path. Despite the differences in spatial and temporal sampling between instruments, the differences in PP estimations are mainly due to the inability of the satellite to measure DCM patches responsible for the high production. The deepest (depth > 60 m) chlorophyll patches are almost unproductive and probably transported passively (subducted) from upper productive layers. Finally, the relationship between primary production and oxygen is also investigated. The logarithm of the primary production in the DCM interior (chlorophyll (Chl) > 0.5 mg/m3) shows a linear negative relationship with the apparent oxygen utilization, confirming that high chlorophyll patches are productive. The slope of this relationship is different for Atlantic, mixed interface waters and Mediterranean waters, suggesting the presence of differences in planktonic communities (whether physiological, population, or community level should be object of further investigation) on the different sides of the front. In addition, the ratio of optical backscatter to Chl is high within the intermediate (mixed) waters, which is suggestive of large phytoplankton cells, and lower within the core of the Atlantic and Mediterranean waters. These observations highlight the relevance of fronts in triggering primary production at DCM level and shaping the characteristic patchiness of the pelagic domain. This gains further relevance considering the inadequacy of optical satellite sensors to observe DCM concentrations at such fine scales.