Vertical transport in the ocean due to sub-mesoscale structures: Impacts in the Kerguelen region

Isabella Rosso*, Andrew Mc C. Hogg, Peter G. Strutton, Andrew E. Kiss, Richard Matear, Andreas Klocker, Erik van Sebille

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    64 Citations (Scopus)


    The summertime phytoplankton bloom near the Kerguelen Plateau is in marked contrast to the low-chlorophyll conditions typical of the Southern Ocean and is thought to arise from natural iron fertilisation. The mechanisms of iron supply to the euphotic zone in this region are poorly understood, and numerical studies of iron transport have until now omitted fine-scale (sub-mesoscale) dynamics which have been shown to significantly increase vertical transport in other parts of the ocean. We present the first sub-mesoscale-resolving study of the flow and vertical transport in this region. The modelled transport and flow structure agree well with observations. We find that an increase in horizontal resolution from mesoscale-resolving (1/20°) to 1/80° resolves sub-mesoscale filamentary frontal structures in which vertical velocities are dramatically higher and are consistent with available observations. Lagrangian tracking shows that water is advected to the surface from much greater depth in the sub-mesoscale-resolving experiment, and that vertical exchange is far more rapid and frequent. This study of sub-mesoscale vertical velocities sets the foundation for subsequent investigation of iron transport in this environment.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)10-23
    Number of pages14
    JournalOcean Modelling
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 2014


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