Do Loop Current eddies stimulate productivity in the Gulf of Mexico?

Damien, Pierre; Sheinbaum, Julio; Pasqueron de Fommervault, Orens; Jouanno, Julien; Linacre, Lorena; Duteil, Olaf

Surface chlorophyll concentrations inferred from satellite images suggest a strong influence of the mesoscale activity on biogeochemical variability within the oligotrophic regions of the Gulf of Mexico (GoM). More specifically, long-living anticyclonic Loop Current eddies (LCEs) are shed episodically from the Loop Current and propagate westward. This study addresses the biogeochemical response of the LCEs to seasonal forcing and show their role in driving phytoplankton biomass distribution in the GoM. Using an eddy resolving (inline-formula M1inlinescrollmathml normal 1 / normal 12 27pt14ptsvg-formulamathimg8a0d874c25b46a170197f53c65b5ab3f bg-18-4281-2021-ie00001.svg27pt14ptbg-18-4281-2021-ie00001.png inline-formula) interannual regional simulation, it is shown that the LCEs foster a large biomass increase in winter in the upper ocean. It is based on the coupled physical–biogeochemical model NEMO-PISCES (Nucleus for European Modeling of the Ocean and Pelagic Interaction Scheme for Carbon and Ecosystem Studies) that yields a realistic representation of the surface chlorophyll distribution. The primary production in the LCEs is larger than the average rate in the surrounding open waters of the GoM. This behavior cannot be directly identified from surface chlorophyll distribution alone since LCEs are associated with a negative surface chlorophyll anomaly all year long. This anomalous biomass increase in the LCEs is explained by the mixed-layer response to winter convective mixing that reaches deeper and nutrient-richer waters.



Damien, Pierre / Sheinbaum, Julio / Pasqueron de Fommervault, Orens / et al: Do Loop Current eddies stimulate productivity in the Gulf of Mexico?. 2021. Copernicus Publications.


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