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Galápagos upwelling driven by localized wind–front interactions

Galápagos upwelling driven by localized wind–front interactions
Galápagos upwelling driven by localized wind–front interactions
The Galápagos archipelago, rising from the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean some 900 km off the South American mainland, hosts an iconic and globally significant biological hotspot. The islands are renowned for their unique wealth of endemic species, which inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution and today underpins one of the largest UNESCO World Heritage Sites and Marine Reserves on Earth. The regional ecosystem is sustained by strongly seasonal oceanic upwelling events—upward surges of cool, nutrient-rich deep waters that fuel the growth of the phytoplankton upon which the entire ecosystem thrives. Yet despite its critical life-supporting role, the upwelling’s controlling factors remain undetermined. Here, we use a realistic model of the regional ocean circulation to show that the intensity of upwelling is governed by local northward winds, which generate vigorous submesoscale circulations at upper-ocean fronts to the west of the islands. These submesoscale flows drive upwelling of interior waters into the surface mixed layer. Our findings thus demonstrate that Galápagos upwelling is controlled by highly localized atmosphere–ocean interactions, and call for a focus on these processes in assessing and mitigating the regional ecosystem’s vulnerability to 21st-century climate change.
2045-2322
1-12
Forryan, Alexander
55d366ed-42ab-4b4e-8a2c-b00959ecc823
Naveira Garabato, Alberto C.
97c0e923-f076-4b38-b89b-938e11cea7a6
Vic, Clément
408e7f4a-468f-4139-90a6-3a95228ad758
Nurser, A. J. George
2493ef9a-21e9-4d8b-9c32-08677e7e145a
Hearn, Alexander R.
04abe3bf-22c4-4c84-bff8-6b7d63033be1
Forryan, Alexander
55d366ed-42ab-4b4e-8a2c-b00959ecc823
Naveira Garabato, Alberto C.
97c0e923-f076-4b38-b89b-938e11cea7a6
Vic, Clément
408e7f4a-468f-4139-90a6-3a95228ad758
Nurser, A. J. George
2493ef9a-21e9-4d8b-9c32-08677e7e145a
Hearn, Alexander R.
04abe3bf-22c4-4c84-bff8-6b7d63033be1

Forryan, Alexander, Naveira Garabato, Alberto C., Vic, Clément, Nurser, A. J. George and Hearn, Alexander R. (2021) Galápagos upwelling driven by localized wind–front interactions. Scientific Reports, 11 (1), 1-12, [1277]. (doi:10.1038/s41598-020-80609-2).

Record type: Article

Abstract

The Galápagos archipelago, rising from the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean some 900 km off the South American mainland, hosts an iconic and globally significant biological hotspot. The islands are renowned for their unique wealth of endemic species, which inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution and today underpins one of the largest UNESCO World Heritage Sites and Marine Reserves on Earth. The regional ecosystem is sustained by strongly seasonal oceanic upwelling events—upward surges of cool, nutrient-rich deep waters that fuel the growth of the phytoplankton upon which the entire ecosystem thrives. Yet despite its critical life-supporting role, the upwelling’s controlling factors remain undetermined. Here, we use a realistic model of the regional ocean circulation to show that the intensity of upwelling is governed by local northward winds, which generate vigorous submesoscale circulations at upper-ocean fronts to the west of the islands. These submesoscale flows drive upwelling of interior waters into the surface mixed layer. Our findings thus demonstrate that Galápagos upwelling is controlled by highly localized atmosphere–ocean interactions, and call for a focus on these processes in assessing and mitigating the regional ecosystem’s vulnerability to 21st-century climate change.

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s41598-020-80609-2 - Version of Record
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Accepted/In Press date: 14 December 2020
Published date: 14 January 2021

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 447169
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/447169
ISSN: 2045-2322
PURE UUID: 8f2eec78-dfda-4ac1-bdbe-b4236dfa0304

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Date deposited: 04 Mar 2021 17:39
Last modified: 26 Nov 2021 00:03

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Contributors

Author: Alexander Forryan
Author: Clément Vic
Author: A. J. George Nurser
Author: Alexander R. Hearn

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