|Impacts of meso-to submeso-scale features on the ocean circulation in the Coral Sea |
(Affiches/Poster) Ocean Sciences Meeting 2016 (La Nouvelle-Orléans, LA, US), 2016-02-21
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As part of the South Pacific subtropical gyre, the encounter of the South Equatorial Current (SEC)with the complex bottom topography and numerous islands of the southwest tropical Pacific resultsinto a series of zonal jets, flowing mainly westward off the tip of archipelagos. Moreover, themesoscale activity at basin scale is dominated by westward-propagating nonlinear eddies, with astrong impact on the ocean circulation, the mixing of water masses and tracers' distribution. Eddy-jet interactions are studied here with the data collected in September 2012 during theBIFURCATION cruise in the Coral Sea, under the auspices of SPICE (Southwest PacIfic OceanCirculation and Climate Experiment). We analyze and explain in situ data with the help of satellite-based remote sensing data (altimetry, SSS, SST, ocean color), and we estimate the mass transportbudget within the Coral Sea. We show that the mesoscale activity is a significant contributor to the0-600m transport estimates (5-10 Sv) and is essential for the interpretation of hydrologicalobservations. A specific mesoscale eddy is identified as responsible for the connection between theNorth Vanuatu Jet (NVJ) and the North Caledonian Jet (NCJ). By using a Lagrangian technique, weare able to confirm the long-term connection between the NVJ and the NCJ through mesoscaleactivity. At a smaller scale, our analysis shows that surface temperature and salinity gradients can beassociated with hydrodynamical submesoscale features depicted by Finite Size LyapunovExponents (FSLE). These structures can also be linked to the presence of diazotroph species, incontrast with the general oligotrophy of the area. This study offers interesting outlooks for the useof FSLE to study the distribution of biogeochemical elements.