The influence of geostrophic strain on oceanic ageostrophic motion and surface chlorophyll

Type Article
Date 2019-06
Language English
Author(s) Zhang Zhengguang1, Qiu Bo1, Klein Patrice2, 3, Travis Seth4
Affiliation(s) 1 : Physical Oceanography Lab, Qingdao Collaborative Innovation Center of Marine Science and Technology, Ocean University of China, Qingdao, China
2 : Laboratory for Ocean and Climate Dynamics, Qingdao National Laboratory for Marine Science and Technology, Qingdao, China
3 : Department of Oceanography, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, HI, USA
4 : Laboratoire d’Océanographie Physique et Spatiale, Brest, 29200, France
Source Nature Communications (2041-1723) (Springer Science and Business Media LLC), 2019-06 , Vol. 10 , N. 1 , P. 2838 (11p.)
DOI 10.1038/s41467-019-10883-w
WOS© Times Cited 16
Abstract

Oceanic submesoscale ageostrophic processes have been progressively recognized as an important upwelling mechanism to close the nutrient budget and sustain the observed primary production of phytoplankton in the euphotic layer. Their relatively small spatio-temporal scales (of 1~10 km and a few days) have hindered a systematic observational quantification of the submesoscale ageostrophic flow variability and its impact on ocean biogeochemistry. By combining surface drifters, satellite altimetry and satellite ocean-color data, we detect that when the strain rate of mesoscale surface geostrophic flow is strong, it favors a higher ageostrophic kinetic energy level and an increase in surface chlorophyll concentration. The strain-induced frontal processes are characterized by a surface chlorophyll increase and secondary ageostrophic upwelling along the light side of the oceanic density front. Further analysis indicates that the balanced ageostrophic motions with longer time scales are more effective in inducing chlorophyll increase than the unbalanced shorter time-scale wave motions.

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