Biogeochemical Dynamics in Adjacent Mesoscale Eddies of Opposite Polarity

Benedetto Barone, Matthew J. Church, Mathilde Dugenne, Nicholas J. Hawco, Oliver Jahn, Angelicque E. White, Seth G. John, Michael J. Follows, Edward F. DeLong, David M. Karl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

We examined the biogeochemical impact of paired mesoscale cyclones and anticyclones in spatial proximity (<200 km apart) in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre. While previous studies have demonstrated that upwelling associated with the intensification of cyclonic eddies can supply nutrients supporting plankton productivity, we observed that steeper vertical gradients in inorganic nutrients increased nutrient fluxes due to diapycnal mixing during the mature stage of cyclonic eddies. The increased diapycnal nutrient supply was linked with expansion of eukaryotic phytoplankton biomass and intensification of the deep chlorophyll maximum (DCM) layer. This perturbation in the plankton community was associated with increased fluxes of biominerals (specifically particulate inorganic carbon and particulate silica) and isotopically enriched organic nitrogen in particles exported in the cyclone. The time-integrated effects of thermocline vertical displacements on the lower euphotic zone were predictable deficits and surpluses of inorganic nutrients and dissolved oxygen, respectively. However, the stoichiometry of oxygen and inorganic nutrients differed from that predicted for production and consumption of phytoplankton biomass, requiring additional biological processes that decouple changes in oxygen and nutrient concentrations. The dynamics revealed by this study may be a common feature of oligotrophic ecosystems, where mesoscale biogeochemical perturbations are buffered by the DCM layer, which limits the ecological impact of eddies in the well-lit, near-surface ocean.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2021GB007115
JournalGlobal Biogeochemical Cycles
Volume36
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2022

Keywords

  • chemical wake
  • deep chlorophyll maximum
  • diapycnal mixing
  • mesoscale eddy
  • nutrient injection

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