Mesoscale physical–biological–biogeochemical linkages in the open ocean: An introduction to the results of the E-Flux and EDDIES programs Academic Article uri icon


  • Mesoscale currents, fronts, and eddies are ubiquitous and energetic features of ocean circulation. These phenomena, sometimes referred to as the “internal weather of the sea,” accommodate a diverse set of physical, chemical, and biological interactions that influence marine biogeochemistry on a wide range of timescales. These biogeochemical processes include the “biological pump”, i.e. the transfer or flux of biologically produced organic matter and associated elements from the surface ocean to depth (Ducklow et al., 2001; Volk and Hoffert, 1985). Within ~ 80% of the world’s oceans, the productivity and species composition of the autotrophic organisms that contribute to the biological pump are typically limited by major nutrients (e.g. nitrogen, phosphorus, and silica), or trace metals (e.g. iron). Primary production in such oligotrophic regions therefore depends mostly on intense recycling of nutrients within the surface sunlit waters, with only a small fraction supported by that entering from the atmosphere, or from the physical transport of nutrients from nutrient-rich deep waters below. Evidence that mesoscale and submesoscale phenomena play a role in the latter process dates back more than two decades (Angel and Fasham, 1983; Franks et al., 1986; Ring Group, 1981; Tranter et al., 1980; Venrick, 1990; Woods, 1988).

publication date

  • May 2008