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Physical drivers of biogeochemical variability in the Polar Front Meander


Yang, X and Strutton, PG and Cyriac, A and Phillips, HE and Pittman, NA and Vives, CR, Physical drivers of biogeochemical variability in the Polar Front Meander, Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 127, (6) Article e2021JC017863. ISSN 2169-9275 (2022) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright Statement

2022 The Authors. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) License, ( which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited and is not used for commercial purposes.

DOI: doi:10.1029/2021JC017863


The Southern Ocean plays a vital role in global ocean circulation, and the Polar Front (PF) is one of its most important physical features. The PF meander south of Tasmania, around 153E, 55S, is a very dynamic region which spawns mesoscale eddies, and influences local biogeochemistry and sea-air interaction. By using voyage and ancillary data, we investigated the unusually strong spring bloom in the vicinity of the PF meander in 2018. We infer that the upwelling of deep water at the front and in eddies, brings macronutrients and dissolved iron (dFe) to the surface. Chlorophyll concentration peaked at over 0.6 mg m −3, which is anomalously high for this area. With reduced iron limitation, the physiological characteristics of phytoplankton in the northern, downstream part of the study area also changed. The photochemical efficiency was improved and released this area from its usual high-nutrient low-chlorophyll (HNLC) status. This was mainly indicated by the increase in the dawn Fv/Fm maximum (indictor of photochemical efficiency) from 0.2 to over 0.5. With the biomass increase and healthier community status, we observed consumption of surface dissolved inorganic carbon and increased particulate organic carbon production to about 40 μmol L −1, forming a weak local carbon sink. Through the investigation of multiple years, a weak positive correlation between mixed layer depth shoaling and phytoplankton growth was found, but there was significant interannual variability in this relationship, likely caused by variable eddy conditions and dFe delivery.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:biogeochemical variability, polar front, climate
Research Division:Earth Sciences
Research Group:Oceanography
Research Field:Biological oceanography
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Management of Antarctic and Southern Ocean environments
Objective Field:Antarctic and Southern Ocean oceanic processes
UTAS Author:Yang, X (Mr Xiang Yang)
UTAS Author:Strutton, PG (Professor Peter Strutton)
UTAS Author:Cyriac, A (Ms Ajitha Cyriac)
UTAS Author:Phillips, HE (Associate Professor Helen Phillips)
UTAS Author:Pittman, NA (Mr Nicholas Pittman)
UTAS Author:Vives, CR (Miss Clara Rodriguez Vives)
ID Code:150660
Year Published:2022
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (DP170102162)
Deposited By:Oceans and Cryosphere
Deposited On:2022-06-24
Last Modified:2022-11-03
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