The California Current System is characterized by upwelling and rich mesoscale eddy activity. Cyclonic eddies generally pinch off from meanders in the California Current, potentially trapping upwelled water along the coast and transporting it offshore. Here, we use satellite-derived measurements of particulate organic carbon (POC) as a tracer of coastal water to show that cyclones located offshore that were generated near the coast contain higher carbon concentrations in their interior than cyclones of the same amplitude generated offshore. This indicates that eddies are in fact trapping and transporting coastal water offshore, resulting in an offshore POC enrichment of 20.9 ± 11 Gg year−1. This POC enrichment due to the coastally-generated eddies extends for 1000 km from shore. This analysis provides large-scale observational-based evidence that eddies play a quantitatively important role in the offshore transport of coastal water, substantially widening the area influenced by highly productive upwelled waters in the California Current System.
The Southern Ocean is characterized by high eddy activity and high particulate organic carbon (POC) content during summer, especially near Antarctica. Because it encircles the globe, it provides a pathway for inter‐basin exchange. Here, we use satellite observations and a high‐resolution ocean model to quantify offshore transport of coastal water rich in POC off the West Antarctic Peninsula. We show that nonlinear cyclonic eddies generated near the coast often trap coastal water rich in POC during formation before propagating offshore. As a result, cyclones found offshore that were generated near the coast have on average higher POC content in their interior than cyclones generated locally offshore. This results in a POC enrichment of 5.7 ± 3.0 Gg C year−1in offshore waters off the Peninsula. Actual POC enrichment is likely substantially larger, since about half of the volume transport of coastal water is driven by small eddies that are missed by observations.more » « less
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Publisher / Repository:
- DOI PREFIX: 10.1029
- Date Published:
- Journal Name:
- Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
More Like this
Abstract. The Indian Ocean presents two distinct climate regimes. The north Indian Ocean is dominated by the monsoons, whereas the seasonal reversal is less pronounced in the south. The prevailing wind pattern produces upwelling along different parts of the coast in both hemispheres during different times of the year. Additionally, dynamical processes and eddies either cause or enhance upwelling. This paper reviews the phenomena of upwelling along the coast of the Indian Ocean extending from the tip of South Africa to the southern tip of the west coast of Australia. Observed features, underlying mechanisms, and the impact of upwelling on the ecosystem are presented. In the Agulhas Current region, cyclonic eddies associated with Natal pulses drive slope upwelling and enhance chlorophyll concentrations along the continental margin. The Durban break-away eddy spun up by the Agulhas upwells cold nutrient-rich water. Additionally, topographically induced upwelling occurs along the inshore edges of the Agulhas Current. Wind-driven coastal upwelling occurs along the south coast of Africa and augments the dynamical upwelling in the Agulhas Current. Upwelling hotspots along the Mozambique coast are present in the northern and southern sectors of the channel and are ascribed to dynamical effects of ocean circulation in addition to wind forcing. Interaction of mesoscale eddies with the western boundary, dipole eddy pair interactions, and passage of cyclonic eddies cause upwelling. Upwelling along the southern coast of Madagascar is caused by the Ekman wind-driven mechanism and by eddy generation and is inhibited by the Southwest Madagascar Coastal Current. Seasonal upwelling along the East African coast is primarily driven by the northeast monsoon winds and enhanced by topographically induced shelf breaking and shear instability between the East African Coastal Current and the island chains. The Somali coast presents a strong case for the classical Ekman type of upwelling; such upwelling can be inhibited by the arrival of deeper thermocline signals generated in the offshore region by wind stress curl. Upwelling is nearly uniform along the coast of Arabia, caused by the alongshore component of the summer monsoon winds and modulated by the arrival of Rossby waves generated in the offshore region by cyclonic wind stress curl. Along the west coast of India, upwelling is driven by coastally trapped waves together with the alongshore component of the monsoon winds. Along the southern tip of India and Sri Lanka, the strong Ekman transport drives upwelling. Upwelling along the east coast of India is weak and occurs during summer, caused by alongshore winds. In addition, mesoscale eddies lead to upwelling, but the arrival of river water plumes inhibits upwelling along this coast. Southeasterly winds drive upwelling along the coast of Sumatra and Java during summer, with Kelvin wave propagation originating from the equatorial Indian Ocean affecting the magnitude and extent of the upwelling. Both El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) events cause large variability in upwelling here. Along the west coast of Australia, which is characterized by the anomalous Leeuwin Current, southerly winds can cause sporadic upwelling, which is prominent along the southwest, central, and Gascoyne coasts during summer. Open-ocean upwelling in the southern tropical Indian Ocean and within the Sri Lanka Dome is driven primarily by the wind stress curl but is also impacted by Rossby wave propagations. Upwelling is a key driver enhancing biological productivity in all sectors of the coast, as indicated by enhanced sea surface chlorophyll concentrations. Additional knowledge at varying levels has been gained through in situ observations and model simulations. In the Mozambique Channel, upwelling simulates new production and circulation redistributes the production generated by upwelling and mesoscale eddies, leading to observations of higher ecosystem impacts along the edges of eddies. Similarly, along the southern Madagascar coast, biological connectivity is influenced by the transport of phytoplankton from upwelling zones. Along the coast of Kenya, both productivity rates and zooplankton biomass are higher during the upwelling season. Along the Somali coast, accumulation of upwelled nutrients in the northern part of the coast leads to spatial heterogeneity in productivity. In contrast, productivity is more uniform along the coasts of Yemen and Oman. Upwelling along the west coast of India has several biogeochemical implications, including oxygen depletion, denitrification, and high production of CH4 and dimethyl sulfide. Although weak, wind-driven upwelling leads to significant enhancement of phytoplankton in the northwest Bay of Bengal during the summer monsoon. Along the Sumatra and Java coasts, upwelling affects the phytoplankton composition and assemblages. Dissimilarities in copepod assemblages occur during the upwelling periods along the west coast of Australia. Phytoplankton abundance characterizes inshore edges of the slope during upwelling season, and upwelling eddies are associated with krill abundance. The review identifies the northern coast of the Arabian Sea and eastern coasts of the Bay of Bengal as the least observed sectors. Additionally, sustained long-term observations with high temporal and spatial resolutions along with high-resolution modelling efforts are recommended for a deeper understanding of upwelling, its variability, and its impact on the ecosystem.more » « less
The California Current System is a productive eastern boundary region off the coasts of Washington, Oregon, and California. There is strong seasonality to the region, with high levels of rainfall and river input to the coastal ocean during the winter season, and coastal and Ekman upwelling during the spring and summer. Iron (Fe) input to the coastal ocean during the winter months can be stored in the continental shelf mud belts and then be delivered to the surface ocean by upwelling in the spring and summer. There have been a number of studies providing strong evidence of Fe‐limitation of diatom growth occurring in regions of the California Current System off of California, and the occurrence of Fe‐limitation has been linked with narrow continental shelf mud belt width and low river input. We provide evidence for potential Fe‐limitation of diatoms off the southern coast of Oregon in July 2014, just off the shelf break near Cape Blanco in a region with moderate shelf width and river input. Since eastern boundary regions account for a disproportionally large amount of global primary production, this observation of potential Fe‐limitation in an unexpected near‐shore region of the California Current System has implications for global models of primary productivity. In order to re‐evaluate the factors impacting Fe availability, we utilize satellite imagery to compare with historical datasets, and show that unexpected levels of Fe can often be explained by eddies, plumes of upwelled water moving offshore, or lack of recent upwelling.
Production of particulate organic carbon (POC) in nutrient-rich coastal waters over continental shelves, its export to depth, and its transport to deeper ocean waters is a poorly quantified component of the global carbon cycle. A critical step in quantifying this vertical transport is identifying shelf processes that export phytoplankton out of the euphotic zone. During cruises of the Santa Barbara Coastal Long Term Ecological Research project, we discovered substantial chlorophyll
a(chl a)below the euphotic zone in the Santa Barbara Channel, a part of the southern California Current System. Observations from towed, undulating vehicles revealed deep chlorophyll layers near fronts where upwelled waters from central California converged with lower-density waters from the Southern California Bight. The mean fraction ± 1 standard deviation (SD) of chlorophyll biomass below the euphotic zone spanning the entire Santa Barbara Channel was ~7 ± 9% during 13 cruises averaged across all seasons. In one spring cruise, the fraction was ~30%, and in other cruises the layers were absent. Phytoplankton export out of the euphotic zone by subduction was indicated by spatial coherence between chl aand sloping density surfaces. Vertical plumes of chl acrossing density surfaces indicated enhanced gravitational export within cyclonic eddies. Chl ain water samples below the euphotic zone, away from fronts and cyclonic flows, suggested additional phytoplankton export. Our results emphasize the importance of subduction in the export of phytoplankton and POC out of the euphotic zone in coastal upwelling systems.
The Greenland ice sheet is melting at increasing rates. Changes in freshwater input to the Labrador Sea can influence coastal circulation and biological processes, stratification, and potentially winter convection. Many recent studies have investigated freshwater variability in the region based on model simulations or observations with limited spatial/temporal coverage. Here, we use in situ (1990–2019) and satellite (2011–2017) observations of surface salinity to characterize freshwater content and to identify transport pathways in the Labrador Sea over multiple years. Large freshening is observed in coastal waters off southwest Greenland from July to November. Interannual variability in freshening near the coast seems to be at least partially related to variability in meltwater input, although the sparseness of in situ data precludes a quantitative assessment. The seasonal westward transport of freshwater is enhanced between 60°–62°N and especially between 63°–64.8°N from August to October, with the low‐salinity waters circumnavigating the basin following the 1,000–2,000 m isobaths. That pathway coincides with intensifications in the component of the surface geostrophic flow that is directed offshore, highlighting the role played by the large‐scale circulation on the westward transport of the freshwater. Low‐salinity water can be transported toward the central Labrador Sea at synoptic scales, however, where it can potentially influence stratification. Consistent with previous modeling studies, offshore freshening is reduced in years with persistent downwelling‐favorable wind conditions. Despite limitations under cold water conditions, satellite observations of surface salinity compare well with in situ data suggesting that they can be useful for monitoring freshwater content in high latitudes.