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Critical turbulence revisited: The impact of submesoscale vertical mixing on plankton patchiness

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By supplying nutrients to the ocean surface, submesoscale vertical motions can have a strong impact on phytoplankton growth and phytoplankton distributions. To study this impact, we model a phytoplankton population in a baroclinically unstable submesoscale eddy using a phytoplankton model coupled to a three-dimensional hydrodynamic model. In the eddy, strong vertical transports are generated as a consequence of baroclinic instability. The resulting plankton distributions turn out to depend strongly on the light intensity and local vertical transport. To analyze these distributions in detail, we use more idealized coupled hydrodynamic-biological models and we extend the critical turbulence concept to three dimensions.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2008-01-01

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  • The Journal of Marine Research publishes peer-reviewed research articles covering a broad array of topics in physical, biological and chemical oceanography. Articles that deal with processes, as well as those that report significant observations, are welcome. In the area of biology, studies involving coupling between ecological and physical processes are preferred over those that report systematics. Authors benefit from thorough reviews of their manuscripts, where an attempt is made to maximize clarity. The time between submission and publication is kept to a minimum; there is no page charge.
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