Impact of anticyclonic eddies on the primary production in the Norwegian Sea.

In the September issue of Deep Sea Research Cecilie Hansen, E. Kvaleberg and Annette Samuelsen publish the paper “Anticyclonic eddies in the Norwegian Sea; their generation, evolution and impact on primary production”.

In the paper they use satellite radar altimetry and ocean color observations in combination with a coupled physical-primary production ocean model to investigate anticyclonic eddies at two locations in the Norwegian Sea. Of particular interest are the formation of the anticyclonic eddies, and their influence on primary production. The formation of these anticyclonic eddies are due to baroclinic instabilities set up by shifts in the wind in north/south direction, leading to simultaneously formation of eddies throughout the area. After a density stratification develops in the upper 100m of the water column, the anticyclones become a subsurface lens of well mixed water with the characteristics of intra-thermocline eddies. The deep mixed layer inside anticyclonic eddies delay phytoplankton bloom by approximately two weeks compared to the surrounding areas. As the mixed layer within the anticyclones become smaller than the critical depth, the combination of this and sufficiently high nutrient levels support a phytoplankton bloom.

From the satellite observations, there is an evidence of phytoplankton being advected toward the center of the eddies, but also of isolated phytoplankton blooms within the intra-thermocline eddies.

The combined use of a numerical model and satellite observations provides three-dimensional information on the structure and properties of both eddies and primary production. The presented model is particularly useful in cloud-covered areas where ocean color images are frequently unavailable.

The paper is available at;