The Contribution of Submesoscale over Mesoscale Eddy Iron Transport in the Open Southern Ocean

Takaya Uchida, Dhruv Balwada, Ryan Abernathey, Galen McKinley, Shafer Smith, Marina Lévy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Biological productivity in the Southern Ocean is limited by iron availability. Previous studies of iron supply have focused on mixed-layer entrainment and diapycnal fluxes. However, the Southern Ocean is a region highly energetic mesoscale and submesoscale turbulence. Here we investigate the role of eddies in supplying iron to the euphotic zone, using a flat-bottom zonally re-entrant model, configured to represent the Antarctic Circumpolar Current region, that is coupled to a biogeochemical model with a realistic seasonal cycle. Eddies are admitted or suppressed by changing the model's horizontal resolution. We utilize cross spectral analysis and the generalized Omega equation to temporally and spatially decompose the vertical transport attributable to mesoscale and submesoscale motions. Our results suggest that the mesoscale vertical fluxes provide a first-order pathway for transporting iron across the mixing-layer base, where diapycnal mixing is weak, and must be included in modeling the open-Southern Ocean iron budget.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3934-3958
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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