Role of fronts on the carbon uptake in the Ross Sea
The presence of submesoscale flows in the upper ocean confounds the traditional one-dimensional paradigm for the evolution of the mixed layer (ML). In frontal regions submesoscale processes can modify the stratification at rates that can easily exceed those associated with air-sea fluxes. This has important implications for carbon uptake in high-latitude, nutrient-rich waters such as the Ross Sea. In these regions phytoplankton growth can be light-limited, and thus submesoscale processes that affect the shoaling and deepening of the ML can modulate the strength and variability of primary productivity. Observations from the Ross Sea suggest that this effect was particularly active at the start of the spring bloom. Numerical simulations of fronts representative of the region and forced by observed air-sea fluxes performed by former EESS graduate student Matthew Long suggest that submesoscale processes play an important role in setting stratification, productivity, and CO2 fluxes in the Ross Sea.