Eddy-driven stratification initiates North Atlantic spring phytoplankton blooms.
ABSTRACT Springtime phytoplankton blooms photosynthetically fix carbon and export it from the surface ocean at globally important rates. These blooms are triggered by increased light exposure of the phytoplankton due to both seasonal light increase and the development of a near-surface vertical density gradient (stratification) that inhibits vertical mixing of the phytoplankton. Classically and in current climate models, that stratification is ascribed to a springtime warming of the sea surface. Here, using observations from the subpolar North Atlantic and a three-dimensional biophysical model, we show that the initial stratification and resulting bloom are instead caused by eddy-driven slumping of the basin-scale north-south density gradient, resulting in a patchy bloom beginning 20 to 30 days earlier than would occur by warming.
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ABSTRACT: We analyze 12 years of mesoscale vertical motion derived from an observation-based product in the top 1000 m of the North West Atlantic Ocean. Vertical velocities [O(10 m day−1)] associated with Gulf Stream instabilities consist of alternating cells of upwelling and downwelling. Here we show that the magnitude of the vertical motions decay exponentially southwards with an e-folding length scale is informative on the dynamics of the system. We further investigate the impact of the vertical supply of nutrients on phytoplankton growth with a conceptual model incorporating the mean effect of nutrient distribution, quasi-geostrophic dynamics and Ekman suction/pumping. Results confirm that the mean effect of mesoscale vertical velocity variability alone can sustain observed levels of net primary production in the immediate vicinity of the Gulf Stream, while other mechanisms, including horizontal advection and submesoscale dynamics, need to be considered when moving towards the subtropical gyre.Geophysical Research Letters. 12/2014;
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ABSTRACT: The supply and bioavailability of dissolved iron sets the magnitude of surface productivity for ∼40% of the global ocean. The redox state, organic complexation, and phase (dissolved versus particulate) of iron are key determinants of iron bioavailability in the marine realm, although the mechanisms facilitating exchange between iron species (inorganic and organic) and phases are poorly constrained. Here we use the isotope fingerprint of dissolved and particulate iron to reveal distinct isotopic signatures for biological uptake of iron during a GEOTRACES process study focused on a temperate spring phytoplankton bloom in subtropical waters. At the onset of the bloom, dissolved iron within the mixed layer was isotopically light relative to particulate iron. The isotopically light dissolved iron pool likely results from the reduction of particulate iron via photochemical and (to a lesser extent) biologically mediated reduction processes. As the bloom develops, dissolved iron within the surface mixed layer becomes isotopically heavy, reflecting the dominance of biological processing of iron as it is removed from solution, while scavenging appears to play a minor role. As stable isotopes have shown for major elements like nitrogen, iron isotopes offer a new window into our understanding of the biogeochemical cycling of iron, thereby allowing us to disentangle a suite of concurrent biotic and abiotic transformations of this key biolimiting element.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 01/2015; 112(1):E15-E20. · 9.81 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: We show the application of a Spatially-Explicit Individual-Based Model (SEIBM) to understand the recruitment process of European anchovy. The SEIBM is applied to simulate the effects of inter-annual variability in parental population spawning behavior and intensity, and ocean dynamics, on the dispersal of eggs and larvae from the spawning area in the Gulf of Lions (GoL) towards the coastal nursery areas in the GoL and Catalan Sea (northwestern Mediterranean Sea). For each of seven years (2003-2009), we initialize the SEIBM with the real positions of anchovy eggs during the spawning peak, from an acoustics-derived eggs production model. We analyze the effect of spawners’ distribution, timing of spawning, and oceanographic conditions on the connectivity patterns, growth, dispersal distance and late-larval recruitment (14 mm larva recruits, R14) patterns. The area of influence of the Rhône plume was identified as having a high probability of larval recruitment success (64%), but up to 36% of R14 larvae end up in the Catalan Coast. We demonstrate that the spatial paths of larvae differ dramatically from year to year, and suggest potential offshore nursery grounds. We showed that our simulations are coherent with existing recruitment proxies and therefore open new possibilities for fisheries management.Progress In Oceanography 01/2015; · 3.99 Impact Factor