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Biogeosciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2020-77
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2020-77
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  27 Mar 2020

27 Mar 2020

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A revised version of this preprint was accepted for the journal BG and is expected to appear here in due course.

Evidence of eddy-related deep ocean current variability in the North-East Tropical Pacific Ocean induced by remote gap winds

Kaveh Purkiani1, André Paul1, Annemiek Vink2, Maren Walter1, Michael Schulz1, and Matthias Haeckel3 Kaveh Purkiani et al.
  • 1MARUM-Center for Marine Environmental Sciences and Faculty of Geosciences, University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany
  • 2Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR), Hannover, Germany
  • 3GEOMAR Helmholtz Center for Ocean Research Kiel, Kiel, Germany

Abstract. There has been a steady increase of interest in mining of deep-sea minerals in the Clarion-Clipperton Zone (CCZ) in the eastern Pacific Ocean during the last decade. This region is known to be one of the most eddy-rich regions in the world. Typically, mesoscale eddies are generated by intense wind bursts channelled through gaps in the Sierra Madre mountains in Central America. Here, we use a combination of satellite and in situ observations to evaluate the relationship between deep-sea current variability at the region of potential future mining and Eddy Kinetic Energy (EKE) in the vicinity of gap winds. A geometry-based eddy detection algorithm has been applied to altimetry sea surface height data for a period of 24 years from 1993 to 2016 in order to analyse the main characteristic parameters and the spatiotemporal variability of mesoscale eddies in the North-East Tropical Pacific Ocean (NETP). Significant differences between the characteristics of eddies with different polarity (cyclonic vs. anti-cyclonic) were found. For eddies with lifetimes longer than one day, cyclonic polarity is more numerous that anticyclonic rotation. However, anticyclonic eddies are larger in size, show stronger in vorticity, and survive longer in the ocean than cyclonic eddies (often 90 days or more). Besides the polarity of eddies, the location of eddy formation should be taken into consideration when investigating the impacted deep ocean region, as we found eddies originating from the Tehuantepec (TT) gap wind lasting longer in the ocean and travelling farther distances in a different direction compared to eddies produced by the Papagayo (PP) gap wind. Long-lived anticyclonic eddies generated by the TT gap wind are observed to travel distances up to 4500 km offshore, i.e. as far as west of 110 W. EKE anomalies observed in the surface of the central ocean at distances of ca. 2500 km from the coast correlate with the seasonal variability of EKE in the region of the TT gap winds with a time lag of 5–6 months. A significant seasonal variability of deep ocean current velocities at water depths of 4100 m was observed in multiple year time-series data likely reflecting the energy transfer of the surface EKE generated by the gap winds to the deep ocean. Furthermore, the influence of mesoscale eddies on deep ocean currents is examined by analyzing the deep ocean current measurements when an anticyclonic eddy crosses the study region. Our findings suggest that despite the significant modulation of dominant current directions driven by the bottom-reaching eddy, the current magnitude intensification was not strong enough to trigger local sediment resuspension in this region. A better insight of annual variability of ocean surface mesoscale activity in the CCZ and their effects on deep ocean current variability are of great help to mitigate the impact of the benthic ecosystem from future potential 1deep-sea mining activities. On an interannual scale, a significant relationship between cyclonic eddy characteristics and El-Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) was found, whereas no robust correlation was detected for anticyclonic eddies.

Kaveh Purkiani et al.

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Kaveh Purkiani et al.

Kaveh Purkiani et al.

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Short summary
There has been a steady increase of interest in mining of deep-sea minerals in the eastern Pacific Ocean recently. The ocean state in this region is known to be highly influenced by rotating body of water (eddies) which some of them can travel long distances in the ocean and impact the deeper layers of the ocean. A better insight of variability of eddy activity in this region is of great help to mitigate the impact of the benthic ecosystem from future potential deep sea mining activity.
There has been a steady increase of interest in mining of deep-sea minerals in the eastern...
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