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Impacts of Mesoscale Eddies on the Vertical Nitrate Flux in the Gulf Stream Region
  • Published Date:
    2018
  • Source:
    Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans, 123(1), 497-513.
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Impacts of Mesoscale Eddies on the Vertical Nitrate Flux in the Gulf Stream Region
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  • Description:
    The Gulf Stream (GS) region has intense mesoscale variability that can affect the supply of nutrients to the euphotic zone (Z(eu)). In this study, a recently developed high-resolution coupled physical-biological model is used to conduct a 25-year simulation in the Northwest Atlantic. The Reynolds decomposition method is applied to quantify the nitrate budget and shows that the mesoscale variability is important to the vertical nitrate supply over the GS region. The decomposition, however, cannot isolate eddy effects from those arising from other mesoscale phenomena. This limitation is addressed by analyzing a large sample of eddies detected and tracked from the 25-year simulation. The eddy composite structures indicate that positive nitrate anomalies within Z(eu) exist in both cyclonic eddies (CEs) and anticyclonic eddies (ACEs) over the GS region, and are even more pronounced in the ACEs. Our analysis further indicates that positive nitrate anomalies mostly originate from enhanced vertical advective flux rather than vertical turbulent diffusion. The eddy-wind interaction-induced Ekman pumping is very likely the mechanism driving the enhanced vertical motions and vertical nitrate transport within ACEs. This study suggests that the ACEs in GS region may play an important role in modulating the oceanic biogeochemical properties by fueling local biomass production through the persistent supply of nitrate.

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