Eddy-induced reduction of biological production in eastern boundary upwelling systems

Nicolas Gruber, Zouhair Lachkhar, Hartmut Frenzel, Patrick Marchesiello, Matthias Münnich, James C. McWilliams, Takeyoshi Nagai, Gian Kasper Plattner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Eddies and other mesoscale oceanic processes, such as fronts, can enhance biological production in the ocean, according to several open-ocean studies. The effect is thought to be particularly pronounced in low-nutrient environments, where mesoscale processes increase the net upward flux of limiting nutrients. However, eddies have been suggested to suppress production in the highly productive eastern boundary upwelling systems. Here, we examine the relationship between satellite-derived estimates of net primary production, of upwelling strength, and of eddy-kinetic energy - a measure of the intensity of mesoscale activity - in the four most productive eastern boundary upwelling systems. We show that high levels of eddy activity tend to be associated with low levels of biological production, indicative of a suppressive effect. Simulations using eddy-resolving models of two of these upwelling systems support the suggestion that eddies suppress production, and show that the downward export of organic matter is also reduced. According to these simulations, the reduction in production and export results from an eddy-induced transport of nutrients from the nearshore environment to the open ocean. Eddies might have a similar effect on marine productivity in other oceanic systems that are characterized by intense eddy activity, such as the Southern Ocean.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)787-792
Number of pages6
JournalNature Geoscience
Volume4
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2011

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biological production
eddy
upwelling
open ocean
nutrient
nearshore environment
net primary production
ocean
kinetic energy
simulation
organic matter
productivity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)

Cite this

Gruber, N., Lachkhar, Z., Frenzel, H., Marchesiello, P., Münnich, M., McWilliams, J. C., ... Plattner, G. K. (2011). Eddy-induced reduction of biological production in eastern boundary upwelling systems. Nature Geoscience, 4(11), 787-792. https://doi.org/10.1038/ngeo1273

Eddy-induced reduction of biological production in eastern boundary upwelling systems. / Gruber, Nicolas; Lachkhar, Zouhair; Frenzel, Hartmut; Marchesiello, Patrick; Münnich, Matthias; McWilliams, James C.; Nagai, Takeyoshi; Plattner, Gian Kasper.

In: Nature Geoscience, Vol. 4, No. 11, 01.11.2011, p. 787-792.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Gruber, N, Lachkhar, Z, Frenzel, H, Marchesiello, P, Münnich, M, McWilliams, JC, Nagai, T & Plattner, GK 2011, 'Eddy-induced reduction of biological production in eastern boundary upwelling systems', Nature Geoscience, vol. 4, no. 11, pp. 787-792. https://doi.org/10.1038/ngeo1273
Gruber N, Lachkhar Z, Frenzel H, Marchesiello P, Münnich M, McWilliams JC et al. Eddy-induced reduction of biological production in eastern boundary upwelling systems. Nature Geoscience. 2011 Nov 1;4(11):787-792. https://doi.org/10.1038/ngeo1273
Gruber, Nicolas ; Lachkhar, Zouhair ; Frenzel, Hartmut ; Marchesiello, Patrick ; Münnich, Matthias ; McWilliams, James C. ; Nagai, Takeyoshi ; Plattner, Gian Kasper. / Eddy-induced reduction of biological production in eastern boundary upwelling systems. In: Nature Geoscience. 2011 ; Vol. 4, No. 11. pp. 787-792.
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