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Satellite observations of the influence of mesoscale ocean eddies on near-surface temperature, phytoplankton and surface stress

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dc.contributor.advisor Chelton, Dudley B.
dc.contributor.advisor Strutton, Pete G.
dc.creator Gaube, Peter
dc.date.accessioned 2012-11-13T19:01:15Z
dc.date.available 2012-11-13T19:01:15Z
dc.date.copyright 2012-11-02
dc.date.issued 2012-11-02
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/1957/35060
dc.description Graduation date: 2013 en_US
dc.description.abstract The influence of mesoscale ocean eddies on near-surface ocean temperature, surface stress and phytoplankton communities is investigated by collocating numerous satellite measurements along with vertical profiles of oceanic temperature and salinity to the interiors of eddies identified and tracked in altimetric sea surface height maps. The surface currents associated with mesoscale ocean eddies impart a curl of the surface stress from the relative motion between surface air and water. This stress curl has a polarity opposite that of the vorticity of the eddy, thus attenuating the eddies by generating Ekman upwelling in the cores of anticyclones and downwelling in the cores of cyclones. Ekman pumping also arises from eddy-induced spatial variability of the sea surface temperature (SST) field that generates a wind stress curl in regions of crosswind SST gradients through a response of surface winds to SST-induced surface heating variations. SST-induced Ekman pumping is shown to be secondary to surface current-induced pumping in most regions of the World Ocean. Eddy-induced Ekman pumping resulting from the combination of surface current effects and air-sea interaction represents an order 1 perturbation of the background, basin-scale Ekman pumping velocities from the large-scale wind fields. In western boundary currents and equatorward-flowing eastern boundary currents, cyclonic eddies preferentially entrain water from the coastal side of the boundary current, which primes the interiors of cyclones to have phytoplankton concentrations that are elevated relative to the background. In contrast, anticyclones formed in these regions contain locally depressed phytoplankton concentrations from the offshore waters. While eddy pumping from vertical displacements of isopycnals during eddy formation can affect the biology in the interiors of cyclones during the transient stage of their development, this ecosystem response cannot be sustained because of the persistent eddy-induced Ekman downwelling throughout the rest of the eddy lifetimes. Likewise, the persistent eddy-induced Ekman upwelling in anticyclones is of little benefit because of their low phytoplankton content at the time of formation. A definitive response to eddy pumping is therefore difficult to detect from satellite observations alone. Eddies formed in regions where anticyclones preferentially entrain water with elevated phytoplankton concentrations, such as the South Indian Ocean, or in some mid-ocean gyre regions where small-amplitude eddies form (e.g., the oligotrophic South Pacific), an ecosystem response to eddy-induced Ekman pumping is observed. Conversely, cyclones in these regions entrain water that is low in chlorophyll, resulting in negative chlorophyll anomalies that are sustained by Ekman downwelling throughout the eddy lifetimes. The phytoplankton response to eddy-induced Ekman upwelling in anticyclones is seasonal, occurring only during the winter. It is proposed that the mechanism for the lack of ecosystem response to eddy-induced Ekman upwelling during the summer is the decoupling of the mixed layer from the nutricline. The observations presented in this dissertation provide a baseline from which coupled ocean circulation and biogeochemical models can be assessed. If coupled models are able to reproduce correctly the observed influence of mesoscale eddies on photoautotrophic communities, further insight into the mechanisms for this variability could be gained from the model output using the methodologies developed in this dissertation together with investigation of subsurface variability in the models below the depth to which chlorophyll can be inferred from the satellite observations. en_US
dc.language.iso en_US en_US
dc.subject Mesoscale Eddies en_US
dc.subject Phytoplankton en_US
dc.subject.lcsh Eddies -- Remote sensing en_US
dc.subject.lcsh Ocean temperature -- Remote sensing en_US
dc.subject.lcsh Marine phytoplankton -- Remote sensing en_US
dc.title Satellite observations of the influence of mesoscale ocean eddies on near-surface temperature, phytoplankton and surface stress en_US
dc.type Thesis/Dissertation en_US
dc.degree.name Doctor of Philosophy (Ph. D.) in Oceangraphy en_US
dc.degree.level Doctoral en_US
dc.degree.discipline Earth, Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences en_US
dc.degree.grantor Oregon State University en_US
dc.contributor.committeemember Behrenfeld, Michael J.
dc.contributor.committeemember Samelson, Roger M.
dc.contributor.committeemember Letelier, Ricardo M.
dc.contributor.committeemember Milligan, Allen J.
dc.description.peerreview no en_us

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