Abstract:The California Current System (CCS) is an eastern boundary upwelling system characterized by strong eddies that are often generated at the coast. These eddies contribute to intense, long-distance cross-shelf transport of upwelled water with enhanced biological activity. However, the mechanisms of formation of such coastal eddies, and more importantly their capacity to trap and transport tracers, are poorly understood. Their unpredictability and strong dynamics leave us with an incomplete picture of the physical and biological processes at work, their effects on coastal export, lateral water exchange among eddies and their surrounding waters, and how long and how far these eddies remain coherent structures. Focusing our analysis on the southern part of the CCS, we find a predominance of cyclonic eddies, with a 25-km radius and a SSH amplitude of 6 cm. They are formed near shore and travel slightly northwest offshore for ~190 days at ~2 km day−1. We then study one particular, representative cyclonic eddy using a combined Lagrangian and Eulerian numerical approach to characterize its kinematics. Formed near shore, this eddy trapped a core made up of ~67% California Current waters and ~33% California Undercurrent waters. This core was surrounded by other waters while the eddy detached from the coast, leaving the oldest waters at the eddy’s core and the younger waters toward the edge. The eddy traveled several months as a coherent structure, with only limited lateral exchange within the eddy.
Abstract:Juvenile jack mackerel were found in 2009 in the Challenger break and the East Pacific ridge (CHAEPR). This seamount region is ∼3500 km from the coastal historic jack mackerel nursery grounds off Chile (north of 30°S). We reviewed historic evidence of juveniles around this seamount and data on several local environmental conditions: sea surface temperature, chlorophyll-a, wind, turbulence levels, and Eddy kinetic energy (EKE). A Lagrangian model for the early life stages of jack mackerel in the eastern South Pacific was used to assess the potential of the seamount region as a permanent nursery ground. Transport/retention mechanisms were assessed by releasing virtual particles coupled to a growth model into the flow simulated by an eddy-resolving ocean model. Model simulations showed high inter-annual variability for particle retention in the seamount region; high retention levels were associated with low EKE such that the particles were retained for several months. Satellite altimetry has shown a local minimum in eddy activity in the region where the juveniles were observed; this minimum was consistent with the above temporal relationship. The inclusion of the CHAEPR oceanic seamount region as a potential nursery ground for jack mackerel expands the current conceptual framework for the spatial population structure of this species in the South Pacific off central Chile proposed by Arcos et al. (The jack mackerel fishery and El Niño 1997–98 effects off Chile. Progress in Oceanography 49: 597–617, 2001). Finally, we discuss the relevance of seamounts playing a double role (spawning and nursery grounds) from the standpoint of conservation and biodiversity.
Abstract:The largest beds of the Patagonian scallop (Zygochlamys patagonica) have been associated with high chlorophyll- a concentration observed along the Patagonian Shelf Break Front but there is no supported hypothesis about how this benthic-pelagic connection is maintained. In this work we address the main physical processes driving the benthic-pelagic linkages through oriented numerical experiments derived from a realistic, high-resolution numerical model, and Lagrangian stochastic simulations. The results support the hypothesis of an important dynamical control of the slope current on the fate of surface released passive particles and their subsequent bottom settlement. A high percentage of the particles released at the surface settled over the scallop beds. The particles remaining at the surface layer followed a prevailing NE flow direction with low cross-shelf dispersion. Additional experiments show that the secondary cross-shelf circulation forced by the slope current promotes downwelling and hence the settlement of particles on the westward side (onshore) of the shelf break. The percent of particles settling over the scallop beds exceeded 80% by the addition of vertical stochastic turbulence and tidal forcing. These results highlight the importance of including the vertical diffusivity in particle tracking experiments to better estimate benthic-pelagic interaction processes.