Biogeochemical impact of mesoscale and sub-mesoscale processes along the life history of cyclonic and anticyclonic eddies: plankton variability and productivity


The main goal of e-IMPACT (PID2019-109084RB-C21) is to assess the relevance of oceanic subtropical cyclonic (C) and anticyclonic (A) mesoscale eddies in the context of the Biological Pump (i.e the production of organic matter and its transport to the deep ocean). To achieve this goal, we will study the linkage in the dynamics of mesoscale (O~100 km) and sub-mesoscale (O~10 km) physical processes and their biological and biogeochemical impacts, along the life history of a C and A eddy (from their generation to a mature stage), in the Canary Current Corridor. The overarching hypothesis of the project is that sub-mesoscale secondary circulation and vertical mixing in mesoscale eddies shape community structure, diversity, functioning and metabolism of planktonic communities, which, in turns, dictate vertical carbon fluxes -both in dissolved (DOC) and particulate (POC) forms- to the ocean interior. Therefore, an accurate assessment of the efficiency of the biological carbon pump in eddies demands process-orientated studies at the sub-mesoscale (as we aim to carry out in this project), that are not currently addressed with traditional field sampling programs. To achieve our goals, we propose an ambitious trans-disciplinary observational program, based on two oceanographic cruises: one during the early stages of generation of C and A eddies, and another, 4-5 months later when the eddies are at a more mature and developed stage. We will combine traditional oceanographic methods with novel instrumentation (e. g. buoys and gliders) to sample down to the sub-mesoscale. The level of complexity of this project in terms of fieldwork activities, logistics and interdisciplinary science (combining physical oceanography, biogeochemistry, and biological oceanography) will require the coordination of several research groups with a proven record of experience and skills in their respective fields of knowledge, that have been collaborating for more than a decade in the coupling between physical processes, plankton community structure and metabolism, and carbon biogeochemistry in the Canary Current region. Moreover, near 15 well-known national and international researchers will collaborate in the project. At the social level, we anticipate that our results will help to understand and validate numerical models used to predict the role that ocean eddies play in the formation, transport and sequestration of organic carbon in the deep ocean, ameliorating the anthropogenic carbon increase in the atmosphere. This would have profound implications for the estimation of new production in eastern boundary upwelling systems (EBUs), where eddy corridors are recurrently found, and, therefore, for the functioning of these systems as sources-sinks of CO2 to the atmosphere as well as seafood suppliers. From the economic perspective, new knowledge generated in e-IMPACT would be thus greatly valuable for the exploitation and sustainable management of marine resources in EBUs. e- IMPACT is aligned with sustainable development Goals 13 (Climate Action) and 14 (Life Below Water).

Scientific Cruises

Biogeochemical implications of the cyclonic and anticyclonic eddy fields will be studied in the “Canary Eddy Corridor” (CEC), during the generation period (South of the Canary Islands) at high resolution (0,1 – 10 km), on board of the Sarmiento de Gamboa ship.

First Scientific Cruise
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This is planned 4 to 5 months after the first one. The plan is to go to the same eddies during a more mature state, as they will be displaced to the South East following the CEC. The eddies would be monitored employing satellite images and drifters launched in the centre of the eddies during the first cruise.

Second Scientific Cruise

Research Participants

Principal investigators:

Javier Arístegui Ruiz – ULPGC/IOCAG (Doctor of Biological Sciences – University Professor)

Xosé Antón Álvares Salgrado – UVIGO/CSIC (Doctor of Ocean Chemistry – Research Professor)

Members of the research team:

Ángeles Marrero Díaz – ULPGC (Doctor of Physics – University Professor)

Ángel Rodríguez Santana – ULPGC (Doctor of Physics – University Professor)

Antonio Martínez Marrero – ULPGC (Doctor of Physics – University Professor)

Cayetano Collado Sánchez – ULPGC (Doctor of Marine Sciences – University Professor)

Antonio Juan González Ramos – ULPGC (Doctor of Marine Sciences – University Professor)

María Dolores Gelado Caballero – ULPGC (Doctor of Marine Sciences – University Professor)

Francisco José Machín Jiménez – ULPGC (Doctor of Marine Sciences – University Professor)

María Fernanda Montero del Pino – ULPGC (Doctor of Marine Sciences – Permanent Employer)

Work team:

Jan Taucher – GEOMAR, Alemania (Doctor)

Ulf Riebesell – GEOMAR, Alemania (Doctor)

Gerhard J. Herndl – University of Vienna, Austria (Doctor)

Federico Baltar González – University of Vienna, Austria (Doctor)

Mar Benavides Gorostegui – Mediterranean Institute of Oceanography, Francia (Doctor)

Jesús María Arrieta López de Uralde – IEO (Doctor)

Josep Coca Sáez de Albéniz – ULPGC (Doctor)

Samuel Ernesto Hormazábal Fritz – Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso (Doctor)

Sheila Natali Estrada Allis – Centro de Investigación y Educación Superior de México (Doctor)

Miguel Borja Aguiar González – ULPGC (Doctor)

Enric Pallas Sanz – Centro de Investigación y Educación Superior de México (Doctor)