Climate change impact on ecosystems of Prince Edward Islands : role of oceanic mesoscale processes

Abstract : The subantarctic Prince Edward Islands lie in the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, between the Subantarctic Front (SAF) and the Polar Front (PF). These fronts positions were found to be highly variable at interannual and monthly time scales and revealed a significant long-term southward trend in the region. The intense mesoscale activity, observed upstream the islands at the South West Indian Ridge, also showed an interannual and intra-annual variability as well a decrease in eddy kinetic energy over 24 years. At a more local scale, we highlighted that the archipelago’s environment was impacted by the mesoscale features produced upstream.Tides appeared to be another important driver of variability of the circulation in between the two islands.An idealised model configuration was designed for the Prince Edward Islands region to study the mesoscale eddy properties and the physical mechanisms of their formation at the ridge. The Eddy Available Potential Energy revealed a maximum of energy around 800 m depth, confirming the deep reaching characteristic of the eddy originated in the region and suggested the presence of a local energy source at this depth. This eddies activity was shown to be the result of a combination of barotropic and baroclinic instabilities occurring at the ridge.Finally, we investigated on the potential consequences of a southward shift of the SAF in the region of the islands.Because the model was idealised, it allowed us to simulate an SAF southward shift by shifting the initial and boundary conditions. The main result was the clear decrease of mesoscale activity in the region which could potentially impact the ecosystems of the Prince Edward Islands.
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Sarah Asdar. Climate change impact on ecosystems of Prince Edward Islands : role of oceanic mesoscale processes. Earth Sciences. Université de Bretagne occidentale - Brest, 2018. English. ⟨NNT : 2018BRES0037⟩. ⟨tel-01892140⟩

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