ocean eddies

Why does MOSES focus on ocean eddies?

The large-scale ocean circulation is closely linked to eddies, fronts and even turbulence on a much smaller scale. While a full understanding of their complex interaction is hindered by the lack of observations bridging the different scales, it is increasingly clear that ocean eddies at scales of 10 m to 200 km have a significant influence on processes of global importance.

Ocean eddies mediate up to approximately 50 % of the particle export in subpolar oceans and significantly influence phytoplankton production with a likely contribution of several tens of percent. Phytoplankton is the base of the marine food chain, produces a large portion of atmospheric oxygen and is a key player in the uptake or release of carbon. Ocean eddies also transport energy from the large-scale ocean circulation down to turbulence and are efficient in mixing water masses in the top layer of the ocean. While the global significance of ocean eddies has been recently suggested by numerical models, observations at smaller scales are very scarce. It is a particular challenge to achieve in situ observations with sufficient resolution.