School of Earth, Environmental, and Marine Sciences Faculty Publications and Presentations

Document Type


Publication Date



We examine the structure and drivers of anomalous phytoplankton biomass in Southern Ocean eddies tracked in a global, multiyear, eddy-resolving, 3-D ocean simulation of the Community Earth System Model.We examine how simulated anticyclones and cyclones differentially modify phytoplankton biomass concentrations, growth rates, and physical transport. On average, cyclones induce negative division rate anomalies that drive negative net population growth rate anomalies, reduce dilution across shallower mixed layers, and advect biomass anomalously downward via eddy-induced Ekman pumping. The opposite is true in anticyclones. Lateral transport is dominated by eddy stirring rather than eddy trapping. The net effect on anomalous biomass can exceed 10–20% of background levels at the regional scale, consistent with observations. Moreover, we find a strong seasonality in the sign and magnitude of regional anomalies and the processes that drive them. The most dramatic seasonal cycle is found in the South Pacific Antarctic Circumpolar Current, where physical and biological processes dominate at different times, modifying biomass in different directions throughout the year. Here, in cyclones, during winter, anomalously shallow mixed layer depths first drive positive surface biomass anomalies via reduced dilution, and later drive positive depth-integrated biomass anomalies via reduced light limitation. During spring, reduced iron availability and elevated grazing rates suppress net population growth rates and drive the largest annual negative surface and depth-integrated biomass anomalies. During summer and fall, lateral stirring and eddy-induced Ekman pumping create small negative surface anomalies but positive depth-integrated anomalies. The same mechanisms drive biomass anomalies in the opposite direction in anticyclones.


©2020. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.

Publication Title

Global Biogeochemical Cycles





To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.