A thin layer of phytoplankton observed in the Philippine Sea with a synthetic moored array of autonomous gliders
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A synthetic moored array composed of five buoyancy-propelled autonomous underwater gliders was used to characterize mesoscale variability and phytoplankton distribution in a 100 km × 100 km domain in the Philippine Sea east of Luzon Strait for 10 days in May 2004. The study area, located east of the Kuroshio near the subtropical front, is dominated by strong internal tides, by energetic westward-propagating mesoscale eddies with azimuthal velocities exceeding 50 cm/s, and by a deep (130 m) maximum in chlorophyll fluorescence. Each glider in the array was instructed to maintain geographic position while repeatedly profiling to 200-m depth. Good station-keeping performance enabled the resulting series of vertical profiles to be interpreted in the same manner as a physically moored chain of instruments. Although organized primarily as a demonstration of glider capabilities, this field exercise provides a unique data set for examining biological-physical interactions in the open ocean. Here we report on the evolution of a thin layer of phytoplankton observed near the deep chlorophyll maximum. Coincident observations of fine structure in temperature and salinity suggest that the thinning process of this layer was driven primarily by physical forcing, most probably vertical shear associated with energetic diurnal internal waves, as opposed to a biological mechanism, such as convergent swimming, grazing, or spatial variation in growth rate.
Author Posting. © American Geophysical Union, 2009. This article is posted here by permission of American Geophysical Union for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Journal of Geophysical Research 114 (2009): C10020, doi:10.1029/2009JC005317.
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