14 Jan 2021

14 Jan 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal BG.

Do Loop Current Eddies stimulate productivity in the Gulf of Mexico?

Pierre Damien1,2, Julio Sheinbaum1, Orens Pasqueron de Fommervault1, Julien Jouanno3, Lorena Linacre4, and Olaf Duteil5 Pierre Damien et al.
  • 1Departamento de Oceanografía Física, Centro de Investigación Científica y de Educación Superior de, Ensenada, México
  • 2University of California, Los Angeles, CA
  • 3LEGOS, Université de Toulouse, IRD, CNRS, CNES, UPS, Toulouse, France
  • 4Departamento de Oceanografía Biológica, Centro de Investigación Científica y de Educación Superior de Ensenada, México
  • 5GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research, Kiel, Germany

Abstract. Surface chlorophyll concentrations inferred from satellite images suggest a strong influence of the mesoscale activity on biogeochemical variability within the oligotrophic regions of the Gulf of Mexico (GoM). More specifically, long-living anticyclonic Loop Current Eddies (LCEs) are shed episodically from the Yucatan Chanel and propagate westward. This study addresses the biogeochemical response of the LCEs to seasonal forcing and show their role in driving phytoplankton biomass distribution in the GoM. Using an eddy resolving (1/12°) interannual regional simulation based on the coupled physical-biogeochemical model NEMO-PISCES that yields a realistic representation of the surface chlorophyll distribution, it is shown that the LCEs foster a large biomass increase in winter in the upper ocean. The primary production in the LCEs is larger than the average rate in the surrounding open waters of the GoM. This behavior cannot be directly identified from surface chlorophyll distribution alone since LCEs are associated with a negative surface chlorophyll anomaly all year long. This anomalous biomass increase in the LCEs is explained by the mixed-layer response to winter convective mixing that reaches deeper and nutrient-richer waters.

Pierre Damien et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on bg-2020-490', Zuo Xue, 04 Feb 2021
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Pierre Damien, 26 Feb 2021
  • RC2: 'Comment on bg-2020-490', Anonymous Referee #2, 06 Feb 2021
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Pierre Damien, 26 Feb 2021

Pierre Damien et al.

Model code and software

NEMO ocean engine Gurvan Madec and NEMO System Team

PISCES-v2: an ocean biogeochemical model for carbon andecosystem studies O. Aumont, C. Ethé, A. Tagliabue, L. Bopp, and M. Gehlen

Pierre Damien et al.


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Short summary
The Gulf of Mexico deep waters are relatively poor in phytoplankton biomass due to low levels of nutrient in the upper layers. Using modelling techniques, we find that the long-living anticyclonic Loop Current Eddies that are shed episodically from the Yucatan Channel strongly shape the distribution of phytoplanktons and, more importantly, stimulate their growth. This results from the contribution of multiple mechanisms of physical-biogeochemical interactions discussed in this study.