Biogeosciences Discuss., 10, 9179-9211, 2013
© Author(s) 2013. This work is distributed
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This discussion paper has been under review for the journal Biogeosciences (BG). Please refer to the corresponding final paper in BG.
On the role of mesoscale eddies for the biological productivity and biogeochemistry in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean off Peru
L. Stramma1, H. W. Bange1, R. Czeschel1, A. Lorenzo2, and M. Frank3
1Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel (GEOMAR), Düsternbrooker Weg 20, 24105 Kiel, Germany
2Instituto del Mar del Peru (IMARPE), Coastal Laboratory of Pisco, Paracas-Pisco, Peru
3Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel (GEOMAR), Wischhofstraße 1–3, 24148 Kiel, Germany

Abstract. Mesoscale eddies seem to play an important role for both the hydrography and biogeochemistry of the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean (ETSP) off Peru. However, detailed surveys of these eddies are not available, which has so far hampered an in depth understanding of their implications for nutrient distribution and biological productivity. In this study three eddies along a section at 16°45' S have been surveyed intensively during R/V Meteor cruise M90 in November 2012. A coastal mode water eddy, an open ocean mode water eddy and an open ocean cyclonic eddy have been identified and sampled in order to determine both their hydrographic properties and their influence on the biogeochemical setting of the ETSP. In the thermocline the temperature of the coastal anticyclonic eddy was up to 2 °C warmer, 0.2 more saline and the swirl velocity was up to 35 cm s–1. The observed temperature and salinity anomalies, as well as swirl velocities of both types of eddies were about twice as large as had been described for the mean eddies in the ETSP and the observed heat and salt anomalies (AHA, ASA) show a much larger variability than the mean AHA and ASA. We found that the eddies contributed significantly to productivity by maintaining pronounced subsurface maxima of chlorophyll. Based on a comparison of the coastal (young) mode water eddy and the open ocean (old) mode water eddy we conclude that the aging of eddies when they detach from the coast and move westward to the open ocean considerably influences the eddies' properties: chlorophyll maxima are weaker and nutrients are subducted. The coastal mode water eddy was found to be a hotspot of nitrogen loss in the OMZ, whereas, the open ocean cyclonic eddy was of negligible importance for nitrogen loss. Our results show that the important role the eddies play in the ETSP can only be fully deciphered and understood through dedicated high spatial and temporal resolution oceanographic/biogeochemical surveys.

Citation: Stramma, L., Bange, H. W., Czeschel, R., Lorenzo, A., and Frank, M.: On the role of mesoscale eddies for the biological productivity and biogeochemistry in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean off Peru, Biogeosciences Discuss., 10, 9179-9211, doi:10.5194/bgd-10-9179-2013, 2013.
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