Title: Observed and simulated submesoscale vertical pump of an anticyclonic eddy in the South China Sea
Authors: ZHONG Y. -S., A. Bracco, J. -W. Tian, J. -H. Dong, W. Zhao, and Z. -W. Zhang
Journal: Scientific Reports, 7, 44011, doi: 10.1038/srep44011.
Abstract: Oceanic mesoscale eddies with typical sizes of 30-200?km contain more than half of the kinetic energy of the ocean. With an average lifespan of several months, they are major contributors to the transport of heat, nutrients, plankton, dissolved oxygen and carbon in the ocean. Mesoscale eddies have been observed and studied over the past 50 years, nonetheless our understanding of the details of their structure remains incomplete due to lack of systematic high-resolution measurements. To bridge this gap, a survey of a mesoscale anticyclone was conducted in early 2014 in the South China Sea capturing its structure at submesoscale resolution. By modeling an anticyclone of comparable size and position at three horizontal resolutions the authors verify the resolution requirements for capturing the observed variability in dynamical quantities, and quantify the role of ageostrophic motions on the vertical transport associated with the anticyclone. Results indicate that different submesoscale processes contribute to the vertical transport depending on depth and distance from the eddy center, with frontogenesis playing a key role. Vertical transport by anticyclones cannot be reliably estimated by coarse-resolution or even mesoscale-resolving models, with important implications for global estimates of the eddy-driven vertical pumping of biophysical and chemical tracers.