27 Oct 2023
 | 27 Oct 2023
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ESSD.

A Lagrangian coherent eddy atlas for biogeochemical applications in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre

Alexandra E. Jones-Kellett and Michael J. Follows

Abstract. Mesoscale eddies modify the vertical structure of the resource environment and affect the horizontal dispersal and mixing of phytoplankton populations. It is useful to characterize the lateral dispersal and trapping properties of eddies for their biogeochemical interpretation. We employ a Lagrangian approach, which provides metrics of material coherence, to identify and track eddies over two decades of remote sensing observations in an intensely studied region of the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre. Emphasizing biogeochemical applications, we use backward-in-time Lagrangian trajectories to compute the coherency of the recent past, synchronize the analysis with ocean color products, and provide a high temporally resolved atlas of coherent eddy boundaries  (Jones-Kellett, 2023a, We compare Lagrangian coherent and Sea Level Anomaly eddy atlases, finding similar variations in temporal and spatial distributions. However, coherent eddies have a more mechanistic relationship between size and longevity and form distinct regional regimes based on polarity. While 65 % of tracked Sea Level Anomaly eddies are classified as coherent at some point in their lifetime, only 54 % contain a Lagrangian coherent structure at any given time. We illustrate the potential of the coherent eddy atlas for biogeochemical applications by examining the relationship between bloom development and eddy evolution in a case study of a Hawaiian Lee cyclone.

Alexandra E. Jones-Kellett and Michael J. Follows

Status: open (until 17 Dec 2023)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on essd-2023-425', Giuseppe M.R. Manzella, 21 Nov 2023 reply

Alexandra E. Jones-Kellett and Michael J. Follows

Data sets

North Pacific Subtropical Gyre RCLV Atlas Alexandra E. Jones-Kellett

Model code and software

RCLVatlas Alexandra E. Jones-Kellett

Video supplement

The 2010 Eulerian and Lagrangian Eddy Field Alexandra E. Jones-Kellett

Chlorophyll in a 2010 Hawaiian Lee Cyclone Alexandra E. Jones-Kellett

Alexandra E. Jones-Kellett and Michael J. Follows


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Short summary
Mesoscale eddies can limit horizontal mixing, potentially isolating phytoplankton populations and affecting their concentration. We used two decades of satellite data and computer simulations to build a dataset of eddy-trapping boundaries in the Pacific Ocean for applications in phytoplankton research. While some eddies trap water masses for months, many continuously mix with surrounding waters. A case study shows how eddy trapping can enhance the signature of a phytoplankton bloom.