The contribution of submesoscale over mesoscale eddy iron transport in the open Southern Ocean

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Takaya Uchida , Dhruv Balwada , Ryan Abernathey , Galen McKinley, Shafer Smith, Marina Levy


In order to examine the roles of ocean dynamics in supplying iron, the limiting nutrient in the open Southern Ocean, to the surface where it can be effectively utilized for photosynthesis, we run a flat-bottom zonally re-entrant channel model configured to represent the Antarctic Circumpolar Current region and couple it to a full biogeochemical model. The model was forced with monthly varying physical and biogeochemical boundary conditions to incorporate seasonality. Much focus on previous studies on iron pathways in the open ocean region has been on mixed-layer entrainment and diapycnal fluxes of iron. The Southern Ocean, however, is a region with strong meso- and submeso-scale turbulence and we would expect eddy fluxes to transport tracers including iron. Spatial resolution is, therefore, chosen as the parameter to control the effect of eddy transport. We utilize cross spectral analysis and the generalized Omega equation to temporally and spatially decompose the vertical transport attributable to meso- and submeso-scale motions. Our results suggest that the mesoscale vertical fluxes provide a first-order pathway for transporting iron across the mixing-layer base where diapycnal mixing is weak and must be included in modelling the open-Southern-Ocean iron budget.



Oceanography, Oceanography and Atmospheric Sciences and Meteorology, Physical Sciences and Mathematics


ocean modelling, MITgcm, Submesoscale, Southern Ocean, iron, mesoscale, biogeochemical modelling, eddy flux, Omega equation, spectral analysis


Published: 2019-07-18 09:04

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GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL) 2.1

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