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The influence of mesoscale variability on organic carbon export fluxes: bridging models and observations

Applicant Lovecchio Elisa
Number 184251
Funding scheme Early Postdoc.Mobility
Research institution National Oceanography Centre, Southampton School of Ocean and Earth Science University of Southampton
Institution of higher education Institution abroad - IACH
Main discipline Oceanography
Start/End 01.01.2020 - 31.08.2021
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Keywords (7)

biological pump; ocean modeling; organic carbon export; small-scale fluxes; in-situ data; mesoscale structures; ocean biogeochemistry

Lay Summary (Italian)

Lead
"L'influenza dei fenomeni di mesoscala sulla variabilità dell'esportazione del carbonio organico: uno studio che combina modelli e osservazioni"Elisa Lovecchio
Lay summary
IN SINTESI
Il flusso di esportazione verticale della materia organica marina dalla superficie del mare agli strati profondi determina la capacità dell'oceano di controllare la concentrazione atmosferica di CO2, regolando l'effetto serra a livello globale. Tale materia organica e' infatti prodotta in superficie attraverso la fotosintesi e quindi l'utilizzo di anidride carbonica. Nonostante questo suo ruolo fondamentale, il flusso verticale di materia organica marina non è ancora ben quantificato, e le stime attuali sono inferiori a quelle necessarie a spiegare il corrispondente consumo osservato nelle profondità dell'oceano.  
 
SOGGETTO E OBIETTIVO
Una delle componenti del flusso verticale di materia organica marina più difficile da misurare è quella associata ai fenomeni di mesoscala, ossia a quelle strutture tipiche della circolazione oceanica di dimensione laterale dell'ordine dei 20 - 200 km, come ad esempio vortici e fronti. In corrispondenza di tali strutture sono stati osservati flussi verticali di esportazione maggiori o minori della media. Purtroppo la natura effimera di queste strutture e la loro dimensione limitata le rende difficili da studiare sia con osservazioni in-situ che con l'uso di modelli numerici. Lo scopo di questo progetto di ricerca è di focalizzarsi sul contributo delle strutture di mesoscala al flusso di esportazione, al fine di capire quali fattori fisici e biologici modulano il trasferimento verticale della materia organica in loro corrispondenza. A tal fine verranno combinati l'uso di osservazioni in loco di lunga durata (sia da gliders che da cruise) e modelli numerici ad alta risoluzione tali da risolvere queste strutture.  

CONTESTO SOCIO-SCIENTIFICO
Questo progetto permetterà non solo di migliorare le stime del flusso di esportazione ma anche di comprendere i processi che lo governano e quindi migliorare le sue previsioni future in relazione ai cambiamenti climatici.  
 
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 27.09.2019

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Alice Della Penna, University of Auckland New Zealand (Oceania)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Sari Giering, NOCS Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Evan Mason, IMEDEA Spain (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Soeren Thomsen, LOCEAN, CNRS-IRD-Sorbonne Universités France (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Adrian Martin, NOCS Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Giulia Bonino, CMCC Bologna Italy (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Ivy Frenger, GEOMAR Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
25th AIOL congress Talk given at a conference Biophysical interactions at the ocean’s mesoscale: eddy and filament impacts on the marine organic carbon and oxygen cycles 30.06.2021 online conference, Italy Lovecchio Elisa;
Ocean Carbon & Biogeochemistry workshop2021 Poster Mesoscale oxygen patterns from glider data in the northern Benguela Upwelling System 20.06.2021 online workshop, United States of America Lovecchio Elisa;
EGU General Assembly Talk given at a conference Combining gliders and models to understand mesoscale biogeochemical patterns at the Angola-Benguela front” 19.04.2021 online conference, Austria Lovecchio Elisa;
I Early Career Symposium on Marine Biogeochemical Modelling Talk given at a conference Keynote talk: "3D cycling of organic matter in upwelling regions: driven by smallscales, impacting on large scales" 13.01.2021 Online conference, Brazil Lovecchio Elisa;


Awards

Title Year
Best oral presentation "Giuseppe Morabito award" at 25th AIOL congress http://www.aiol.info/premi-giovani-ricercatori-xxv/ 2021

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
149384 CALNEX: Quantifying the exchange of carbon and nutrients between the coastal and open seas: A comparative modeling study of the California and Canary Current Systems 01.02.2014 Project funding

Abstract

The vertical export of organic carbon from the surface ocean to the ocean's interior exerts a fundamental control on atmospheric carbon concentrations. Nevertheless, its magnitude is still ill constrained, and current estimates do not match the high rates of organic carbon utilization at depth. One of the unaccounted contributions to the flux is associated with the ocean's mesoscale flow (with typical width of 20-200 km), which substantially modulates the export, but is under-sampled by observational methods and unresolved by models. My project aims at quantifying the organic carbon export associated with mesoscale structures such as eddies and fronts, and at identifying its drivers. I will use already available recent high-resolution in-situ glider and ship-based data collected in a specific region of the ocean. These will be combined with a new high-resolution coupled physical-biogeochemical model setup for the same region, which will be developed in order to interpret, generalize and up-scale the results. Through the use of structure-identification algorithms, I will first quantify the integrated export of organic carbon associated with mesoscale structures, which I expect to represent a significant fraction of the total export flux. Then I will identify the physical and biological drivers of the mesoscale flux modulation, with a particular focus on the role of mesoscale enhanced vertical advective fluxes and local changes in the community structure. This project will allow me to not only to improve the current estimates of the total export of organic carbon, but also to provide a process-understanding of the flux drivers, both essential for future projections of the global carbon cycle.
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