An avenue of eddies: Quantifying the biophysical properties of mesoscale eddies in the Tasman Sea

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
Geophysical Research Letters, 2012, 39 (16)
Issue Date:
2012-08-28
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The Tasman Sea is unique-characterised by a strong seasonal western boundary current that breaks down into a complicated field of mesoscale eddies almost immediately after separating from the coast. Through a 16-year analysis of Tasman Sea eddies, we identify a region along the southeast Australian coast which we name Eddy Avenue where eddies have higher sea level anomalies, faster rotation and greater sea surface temperature and chlorophyll a anomalies. The density of cyclonic and anticyclonic eddies within Eddy Avenue is 23% and 16% higher respectively than the broader Tasman Sea. We find that Eddy Avenue cyclonic and anticyclonic eddies have more strongly differentiated biological properties than those of the broader Tasman Sea, as a result of larger anticyclonic eddies formed from Coral Sea water depressing chl. a concentrations, and for coastal cyclonic eddies due to the entrainment of nutrient-rich shelf waters. Cyclonic eddies within Eddy Avenue have almost double the chlorophyll a (0.35mg m-3) of anticyclonic eddies (0.18mg m-3). The average chlorophyll a concentration for cyclonic eddies is 16% higher in Eddy Avenue and 28% lower for anticyclonic eddies when compared to the Tasman Sea. With a strengthening East Australian Current, the propagation of these eddies will have significant implications for heat transport and the entrainment and connectivity of plankton and larval fish populations. © 2012. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.
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