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Intra-Seasonal Variability of Southern Ocean Primary Production : the Role of Storms and Mesoscale Turbulence

Abstract : The Southern Ocean is one of the stormiest places on earth; here strong mid-latitude storms frequently traverse large distances of this ocean. The presence of the passage of intense storms and meso to sub-mesoscale eddy variability has the potential to strongly impact the intra-seasonal variability of the upper ocean environment where phytoplankton live. Yet, exactly how phytoplankton growth rates and its variability are impacted by the dominance of such features is not clear. Herein, lies the problem addressed by the core of this thesis, which seeks to advance the understanding of intra-seasonal variability of Southern Ocean primary production. Model experiments have suggested that intra-seasonal storm-linked physical supplies of dissolved iron (DFe) during the summer played a considerably more active and influential role in explaining the sustained summer productivity in the surface waters of the Southern Ocean than what was thought previously. This was through two important insights: 1. Storm-eddy interactions may strongly enhance the magnitude and extent of upper-ocean vertical mixing in both the surface mixed layer as traditionally understood as well as in the subsurface ocean. These two mixing regimes have different dynamics but act in concert to amplify the DFe fluxes to the surface ocean. 2. Storm initiated inertial motions may, through interaction with eddies, greatly reinforce w and thus, enhance the vertical advection of DFe to the surface ocean, an effect that may last several days after the storm. Such storm-eddy dynamics may greatly increase the intra-seasonal variability of primary production.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, December 13, 2017 - 10:45:27 AM
Last modification on : Monday, June 8, 2020 - 10:34:06 AM


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  • HAL Id : tel-01336297, version 2


Sarah-Anne Nicholson. Intra-Seasonal Variability of Southern Ocean Primary Production : the Role of Storms and Mesoscale Turbulence. Oceanography. Université Pierre et Marie Curie - Paris VI; University of Cape Town, 2016. English. ⟨NNT : 2016PA066675⟩. ⟨tel-01336297⟩



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