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Multi-scale physical-biological interactions in the ocean: the importance of submesoscale processes

This week, the Third International Symposium on the Effects of Climate Change on the World’s Oceans takes place in Santos, Brazil, and we are featuring a number of articles throughout the week from speakers at the symposium.
Published: 26 March 2015

​​​​​​Paulo H.R. Calil, Institute of Oceanography, University Federal de Rio Grande, Brazil, is a plenary speaker in S1: Role of advection and mixing in ocean biogeochemistry and marine ecosystems.​

Patterns of primary productivity in the ocean depend on an intricate relationship between physical, chemical, and biological processes that occur on varied temporal and spatial scales. By controlling the vertical exchange between water masses and, consequently, the vertical supply of nutrients, these interactions are responsible for the patterns of species composition and diversity observed in the ocean, as well as for the existence of biogeochemical provinces.

Moreover, the supply of new nutrients into the euphotic zone ultimately controls export production, which is a strong constraint to atmospheric CO2 concentrations as it determines the amount that is absorbed by the oceans.

Understanding physical-biogeochemical interactions in the ocean is therefore ​vital to have a more complete view of the Earth's climate system. This effort requires marine scientists with various backgrounds joining efforts on multi-disciplinary projects, which is both an observational and modelling challenge as processes operating at multiple spatial and temporal scales overlap. ​

Calil's talk at the symposium addressed the importance of submesoscale O(1-10km) and mesoscale O(10-100 km) processes on cross-frontal exchanges in various regions of the South Atlantic Ocean, provided a brief summary of the state-of-art in the field, and highlighted the ongoing efforts in marine biogeochemical modeling that are currently being applied in the South Atlantic Ocean. ​

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Multi-scale physical-biological interactions in the ocean: the importance of submesoscale processes

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