Production regimes in the northeast Atlantic: A study based on Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-view Sensor (SeaWiFS) chlorophyll and ocean general circulation model mixed layer depth

Marina Lévy*, Yoav Lehahn, Jean Michel André, Laurent Mémery, Hubert Loisel, Eyal Heifetz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations

Abstract

A 5 year time series of Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-view Sensor (SeaWiFS) ocean color images (SCHL) is compared with mixed layer depths (MLD) and atmospheric forcings from the Clipper model of the North Atlantic (1998-2002). This comparison is done over the region 16°-22°W, 30°-50°N, where subpolar mode waters are formed and which overlaps the region of the 2001 Programme Océan Multidisciplinaire Méso Echelle (POMME) experiment at sea. Three production regimes are identified on the basis of the seasonal cycling of SCHL and MLD: the well-known subpolar and subtropical regimes and a midlatitude regime. The midlatitude regime is characterized by a single broad bloom weaker than the subpolar spring bloom and stronger than the subtropical fall bloom, which starts in fall as an entrainment bloom and peaks in spring as a restratification bloom. This specific regime is found between 35°N and 40°N (±2°) in the northeast Atlantic. It corresponds to winter MLDs between Ze (the depth of the euphotic layer) and 2Ze, i.e., it lays between the region where the winter MLD is greater than Sverdrup's critical depth (subpolar regime) and the region where the mixing is never deeper than the well-lit layer (subtropical regime). The very specific characteristics of the midlatitude regime strengthen the biological carbon pump since production is active in winter within the waters to be subducted. The midlatitude regime also may provide an explanation for the unexpectedly low f ratios sometimes observed during the bloom in the region (North Atlantic Bloom Experiment, POMME). A large interannual variability is observed for the three regimes in terms of the timing and the intensity of the blooms and of the geographical boundaries of the regimes. These variabilities appear to be mainly driven by the synoptic and the low-frequency atmospheric variabilities. It is also shown that in addition to the northward propagation of the subpolar spring bloom from 41°N (±1.3°) to 50°N, the (fall) entrainment bloom propagates southward over the whole latitudinal range (35°-50°N).

Original languageEnglish
Article numberC07S10
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
Volume110
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - 8 Jul 2005

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