Biogeochemical impacts due to mesoscale eddy activity in the Sargasso Sea as measured at the Bermuda Atlantic Time-series Study (BATS) Academic Article uri icon


  • A comparison of monthly biogeochemical measurements made from 1993 to 1995, combined with hydrography and satellite altimetry, was used to assess the impacts of nine eddy events on primary productivity and particle flux in the Sargasso Sea. Measurements of primary production, thorium-234 flux, nitrate + nitrite, and photosynthetic pigments made at the US JGOFS Bermuda Atlantic Time-series Study (BATS) site were used. During the 3 years of this study, four out of six high thorium-234 flux events occurred during the passage of an eddy. Primary production nearly as high as the spring bloom maximum was observed in two mode-water eddies (May 1993 and July 1995). The 1994 spring bloom at BATS was suppressed by the passage of an anticyclone. Distinct phytoplankton community shifts were observed in mode-water eddies, which had an increased percentage of diatoms and dinoflagellates, and in cyclones, which had an increased percentage of Synechococcus. These variations in species composition within mode-water eddies and cyclones may be associated with the ages of the sampled eddies, and/or differences in physical, chemical, and biological factors in these two distinct eddy types. In general, eddies that were 1-2 months old elicited a large biological response; eddies that were 3 months old may show a biological response and were accompanied by high thorium flux;, eddies that were 4 months old or older did not show a biological response or high thorium flux. A conceptual model depicting temporal changes during eddy upwelling, maturation, and decay can explain the observations in all seven upwelling eddies present in the time-series investigated herein. (C) 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

publication date

  • November 2003