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11 December 1998 SYMPLEX experiment: first results on oceanic mesoscale dynamics and related primary production from AVHRR and SeaWIFS satellite data and field experiments
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Upper ocean dynamics is characterized by a strong variability, at different scales, both in direction and structure of the flow. Mesoscale variability, which is ubiquitous in the world ocean, is often the dominant component in the variance spectrum of velocity with relevant implications on water mass mixing and transformation and on the carbon transfer in the marine food web. Mesoscale activity is manifested through the formation of instabilities, meanders and eddies. Eddies generate either a doming of isopycnals (cyclones) or a central depression (anticyclones). This in turn modifies, among the others, nutrient and organism distributions in the photic zone eventually enhancing or depressing photosynthetic activity and other connected biological responses. The mechanism is similar to what has been thoroughly studied for the warm and cold core rings but at different spatial and temporal scales. The enhancement of phytoplankton growth and the modification of photosynthetic parameters has been shown to occur in situ by means of a modulated fluorescence probe. More recently, an attempt to estimate the magnitude of this specific forcing on nutrient fluxes and primary production has also been conducted at different scales by modeling exercises, though with contrasting estimates the relative importance concerns. Because phytoplankton growth takes place when light, nutrients and cells are found at the same place, the increase in primary production favored by mesoscale eddies cannot be easily predicted. The incident light, the seasonality, the life-time of the structure, its intensity etc. can all influence the final yield. In addition, it has still to be determined which component of the community reacts faster and takes advantage of the new nutrients and how efficiently the new carbon is channeled in the food web. For what remote sensing is concerned, the detectability form the space of such structures is certainly dependent on the depth at which the upward distortion of isopycnals takes places. It can be supposed that a change in bio-optical signature of the whole structure could occur because of the 3-D dynamics of the eddy. If this holds true, then color remote sensing coupled with sea level topography and sea surface temperature should be a powerful tool to track such transient structures. The ALT-SYMPLEX program has been designed to better understand the relationship between short living eddies and carbon transfer in the food web. This is based on several experiments aimed to integrate remote sensing data (ocean color and surface topography) and in situ data in order to evaluate the relationship between surface and sub-surface physical dynamics and its relations on chemical and biological aspects in presence of mesoscale features.
© (1998) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
Emanuele Bohm, Bruno Buongiorno Nardelli, Christophe Brunet, Raffaella Casotti, Fabio Conversano, Federico Corato, Emma D'Acunzo, Fabrizio D'Ortenzio, Daniele Iudicone, Luigi Lazzara, Olga Mangoni, Marco Marcelli, Salvatore Marullo, Luca Massi, Giovanna Mori, Ilaria Nardello, Caterina Nuccio, Maurizio Ribera d'Alcala, Vincenzo Saggiomo, Rosalia Santoleri, Michele Scardi, Stefania Sparnocchia, Sasha Tozzi, and Simona Zoffoli "SYMPLEX experiment: first results on oceanic mesoscale dynamics and related primary production from AVHRR and SeaWIFS satellite data and field experiments", Proc. SPIE 3496, Earth Surface Remote Sensing II, (11 December 1998);

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