Dr. Naomi Levine, University of Southern California
Fine-scale (1-10km) physical dynamics can impact primary production and carbon cycling through changes in mixed layer depths and nutrient cycling. However, the large-scale implications of these bio-physical interactions on ecosystem composition and carbon cycling remain uncertain as they are difficult to observe and challenging to model. Using high-resolution satellite products, we show that submesoscale fronts significantly increase productivity in the oligotrophic ocean and that increases in the intensity and frequency of fine-scale dynamics could offset warming induced changes. I also introduce a novel modeling approach that captures the impact of submesoscale processes on carbon cycling in a framework that is computationally tractable for large-scale simulations. The Spatially Heterogeneous Dynamic Plankton (SHiP) model simulations show that the heterogeneous resource environment created by submesoscale processes significantly impacts competition between phytoplankton groups and carbon export relative to a mean field.