The link between surface and sub-surface chlorophyll-a in the centre of the Atlantic subtropical gyres: a comparison of observations and models

Quartly, GD, Aiken, J, Brewin, RJW and Yool, A 2023 The link between surface and sub-surface chlorophyll-a in the centre of the Atlantic subtropical gyres: a comparison of observations and models. Frontiers in Marine Science, 10. 1-19.

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Satellite observations have given us a clear idea of the changes in chlorophyll in the surface ocean on both a seasonal and interannual basis, but repeated observations at depth are much rarer. The permanently-stratified subtropical gyres in the Atlantic are highly oligotrophic, with most production centred on a deep chlorophyll maximum (DCM) just above the nitracline. This study explores the variations in this feature in the core of both gyres, considering both seasonal and interannual variations, and the linkages between changes at the surface and sub-surface. The in situ observations come from the Atlantic Meridional Transect (AMT), a long-running UK monitoring programme, and also from biogeochemical Argo floats. AMT provides measurements spanning more than 25 years directed through the centres of these gyres, but samples only 2 to 4 months per year and thus cannot resolve the seasonal variations, whereas the profiling floats give coverage throughout the year, but without the rigid spatial repeatability. These observational records are contrasted with representation of the centres of the gyres in two different biogeochemical models: MEDUSA and ERSEM, thus fulfilling one of AMT’s stated aims: the assessment of biogeochemical models. Whilst the four datasets show broadly the same seasonal patterns and that the DCM shallows when surface chlorophyll increases, the depth and peak concentration of the DCM differ among datasets. For most of the datasets the column-integrated chlorophyll for both gyres is around 19 mg m-2 (with the AMT fluorescence-derived values being much lower); however the MEDUSA model has a disparity between the northern and southern gyres that is not understood. Although the seasonal increase in surface chlorophyll is tied to a commensurate decrease in concentration at depth, on an interannual basis years with enhanced surface levels of chlorophyll correspond to increases at depth. Satellite-derived observations of surface chlorophyll concentration act as a good predictor of interannual changes in DCM depth for both gyres during their autumn season, but provide less skill in spring.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Additional Keywords: chlorophyll, subtropical gyre, Atlantic Meridional Transect, BGC-Argo, deep chlorophyll maximum, seasonal, interannual, model validation
Divisions: Plymouth Marine Laboratory > National Capability categories > Atlantic Meridional Transect
Plymouth Marine Laboratory > National Capability categories > National Centre for Earth Observation
Plymouth Marine Laboratory > Science Areas > Earth Observation Science and Applications
Depositing User: S Hawkins
Date made live: 29 Nov 2023 11:37
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2023 11:37

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