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Phytoplankton size classes competitions at sub-mesoscale in a frontal oceanic region

Abstract : The effects of mesoscale and sub-mesoscale dynamics on the competition between two different phytoplankton size classes are investigated with a 3D primitive equations model. The model reproduces realistic simulations of mesoscale turbulence generated by a westward current in the southern hemisphere at statistical equilibrium in a summer situation. Effects of two different grazing pressures on phytoplankton competitions are compared and the role of eddy variability is quantified comparing high and low resolution simulations. High resolution simulations reveal a filamentary distribution of biomass and nutrients induced by the combination of vertical advection and horizontal stirring. This fine scale variability is observed not only on the horizontal but also on the vertical into the subsurface chlorophyll maximum. One of the key results is that such a dynamics induces a spatial segregation of the phytoplankton in the southern part of the frontal region that is mainly filamentary. This spatial segregation consists in biomass maxima for large phytoplankton in rich nutrients filaments and maxima for small phytoplankton outside these filaments. This anti-correlation is particularly strong when grazing pressure is low and is confirmed by statistical analysis. In the central frontal region, dominated by mesoscale dynamics, the two phytoplankton classes are strongly correlated together and biomass maxima are located close to downwelling regions that are poor in nutrients. It is shown that the effect of grazing is significantly amplified by the fine scale dynamics and that the combination of these two mechanisms is responsible of a switch of the ecosystem dominance in the surface layers. In addition, the effect of frontal dynamics. on the detritus export is very sensitive to gazing pressure: increasing grazing induces a significant decrease of the export in the presence of frontal dynamics whereas it induces an increase of the export without small-scale variability.
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https://hal.univ-brest.fr/hal-00472053
Contributor : Ivo Grigorov <>
Submitted on : Friday, April 9, 2010 - 1:38:50 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, June 23, 2020 - 3:39:22 AM

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Pascal Rivière, Philippe Pondaven. Phytoplankton size classes competitions at sub-mesoscale in a frontal oceanic region. Journal of Marine Systems, Elsevier, 2006, 60 (3-4), pp.354-365. ⟨10.1016/j.jmarsys.2006.02.005⟩. ⟨hal-00472053⟩

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