Oligotrophic regions play a central role in global biogeochemical cycles, with microbial communities in these areas representing an important term in global carbon budgets. While the general structure of microbial communities has been well documented in the global ocean, some remote regions such as the western tropical South Pacific (WTSP) remain fundamentally unexplored. Moreover, the biotic and abiotic factors constraining microbial abundances and distribution remain not well resolved. In this study, we quantified the spatial (vertical and horizontal) distribution of major microbial plankton groups along a transect through the WTSP during the austral summer of 2015, capturing important autotrophic and heterotrophic assemblages including cytometrically determined abundances of non-pigmented protists (also called flagellates). Using environmental parameters (e.g., nutrients and light availability) as well as statistical analyses, we estimated the role of bottom–up and top–down controls in constraining the structure of the WTSP microbial communities in biogeochemically distinct regions. At the most general level, we found a “typical tropical structure”, characterized by a shallow mixed layer, a clear deep chlorophyll maximum at all sampling sites, and a deep nitracline. Prochlorococcus was especially abundant along the transect, accounting for 68 ± 10.6 % of depth-integrated phytoplankton biomass. Despite their relatively low abundances, picophytoeukaryotes (PPE) accounted for up to 26 ± 11.6 % of depth-integrated phytoplankton biomass, while Synechococcus accounted for only 6 ± 6.9 %. Our results show that the microbial community structure of the WTSP is typical of highly stratified regions, and underline the significant contribution to total biomass by PPE populations. Strong relationships between N2 fixation rates and plankton abundances demonstrate the central role of N2 fixation in regulating ecosystem processes in the WTSP, while comparative analyses of abundance data suggest microbial community structure to be increasingly regulated by bottom–up processes under nutrient limitation, possibly in response to shifts in abundances of high nucleic acid bacteria (HNA).
Formation of North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW) represents a transfer of upper layer water to abyssal depths at a rate of 15 to 20 × 106 m3/s. NADW spreads throughout the Atlantic Ocean and is exported to the Indian and Pacific Oceans by the Antarctic Circumpolar Current and deep western boundary currents. Naturally, there must be a compensating flow of upper layer water toward the northern North Atlantic to feed NADW production. It is proposed that this return flow is accomplished primarily within the ocean's warm water thermocline layer. In this way the main thermoclines of the ocean are linked as they participate in a thermohaline-driven global scale circulation cell associated with NADW formation. The path of the return flow of warm water is as follows: Pacific to Indian flow within the Indonesian Seas, advection across the Indian Ocean in the 10°–15°S latitude belt, southward transfer in the Mozambique Channel, entry into the South Atlantic by a branch of the Agulhas Current that does not complete the retroflection pattern, northward advection within the subtropical gyre of the South Atlantic (which on balance with the southward flux of colder North Atlantic Deep Water supports the northward oceanic heat flux characteristic of the South Atlantic), and cross-equatorial flow into the western North Atlantic. The magnitude of the return flow increases along its path as more NADW is incorporated into the upper layer of the ocean. Additionally, the water mass characteristics of the return flow are gradually altered by regional ocean-atmosphere interaction and mixing processes. Within the Indonesian seas there is evidence of strong vertical mixing across the thermocline. The cold water route, Pacific to Atlantic transport of Subantarctic water within the Drake Passage, is of secondary importance, amounting to perhaps 25% of the warm water route transport. The continuity or vigor of the warm water route is vulnerable to change not only as the thermohaline forcing in the northern North Atlantic varies but also as the larger-scale wind-driven circulation factors vary. The interocean links within the Indonesian seas and at the Agulhas retroflection may be particularly responsive to such variability. Changes in the warm water route continuity may in turn influence formation characteristics of NADW.
Volcanic eruptions have global climate impacts, but their effect on the hydrologic cycle is poorly understood. We use a modified version of superposed epoch analysis, an eruption year list collated from multiple data sets, and seasonal paleoclimate reconstructions (soil moisture, precipitation, geopotential heights, and temperature) to investigate volcanic forcing of spring and summer hydroclimate over Europe and the Mediterranean over the last millennium. In the western Mediterranean, wet conditions occur in the eruption year and the following 3 years. Conversely, northwestern Europe and the British Isles experience dry conditions in response to volcanic eruptions, with the largest moisture deficits in posteruption years 2 and 3. The precipitation response occurs primarily in late spring and early summer (April–July), a pattern that strongly resembles the negative phase of the East Atlantic Pattern. Modulated by this mode of climate variability, eruptions force significant, widespread, and heterogeneous hydroclimate responses across Europe and the Mediterranean.
The sea surface salinity (SSS) displays fluctuations that are not solely in response to local air-sea flux of freshwater but also reflect ocean circulation and mixing processes. Ponte and Vinogradova (2016), using Estimating the Circulation and Climate of the Ocean output, estimate the relative roles of these forces for the global ocean. They find that the governing forces vary greatly across ocean regimes. Their research identifies features that will be addressed with enhanced SSS observations from orbiting satellites and in situ global arrays, which promise new insight into the marine water cycle and its place in the global hydrological system.
A systematic increase in global temperature since the industrial revolution has been attributed to anthropogenic forcing. This increase has been especially evident over the Himalayas and Central Asia and is touted as a major contributing factor for glacier mass balance declines across much of this region. However, glaciers of Pakistan’s Karakorum region have shown no such decline during this time period, and in some instances have exhibited slight advance. This discrepancy, known as the ‘Karakorum Anomaly’, has been attributed to unusual amounts of debris covering the region’s glaciers; the unique seasonality of the region’s precipitation; and localized cooling resulting from increased cloudiness from monsoonal moisture. Here we present a tree-ring based reconstruction of summer (June–August) temperature from the Karakorum of North Pakistan that spans nearly five centuries (1523–2007 C.E.). The ring width indices are derived from seven collections (six—Picea smithiana and one—Pinus gerardiana) from middle-to-upper timberline sites in the northern Karakorum valleys of Gilgit and Hunza at elevations ranging from 2850 to 3300 meters above mean sea level (mean elevation 3059 m asl). The reconstruction passes all traditional calibration–verification schemes and explains 41 % of the variance of the nested Gilgit–Astore instrumental station data (Gilgit—1454 m asl, 1951–2009; Astore—2167 m asl, 1960–2013). Importantly, our results indicate that Karakorum temperature has remained decidedly out of phase with hemispheric temperature trends for at the least the past five centuries, highlighting the long-term stability of the Karakorum Anomaly, and suggesting that the region’s temperature and cloudiness are contributing factors to the anomaly.
The Black Sea becomes periodically isolated from the global ocean during each glacial period. This occurs when the elevation of the global ocean is lower than the Bosporus sill, putting a stop to inflow of salt water to the Black Sea. This phenomenon allows the Black Sea to evolve from a marine environment to a freshwater one. It is also evident that the depth of the Bosporus sill does not remain at the same elevation, and instead is dynamic. The sill becomes filled with sediments during periods of its sub-aerial exposure but is subsequently eroded to its bedrock during periods of outflow from the Black Sea-Lake to the global ocean. This interpretation comes from the observations that during the last glacial period, the Black Sea-Lake was in a positive hydrological balance, fresh, and predominantly outflowing to the global ocean over a deep Bosporus sill, at approximately 80 meters below sea level (mbsl). It is highly likely that there were brief periods when the lake froze and the outflow suspended, such as during the extreme stadial conditions associated with the North Atlantic iceberg-discharge Heinrich Event 2 (HE 2) at ~24 kyr before present, when there is also no evident carbonate accumulation in stalagmites that receive water from evaporated Black Sea surface water. Upon the onset of deglaciation, large floods originating from the Fennoscandinavian Ice Sheet and the Alps, delivered meltwater so as to fully ventilate the Black Sea-Lake and even potentially replace all of the water in the basin. These floods occurred near the time of the deglacial iceberg-discharge Heinrich Event 1 (HE 1 at ~17 kyr before present), and left pulses of red-colored sediment everywhere on the western half of the Black Sea basin.
This paper uses a suite of Earth system models which simulate the distribution of He isotopes and radiocarbon to examine two paradoxes in Earth science, each of which results from an inconsistency between theoretically motivated global energy balances and direct observations. The helium–heat paradox refers to the fact that helium emissions to the deep ocean are far lower than would be expected given the rate of geothermal heating, since both are thought to be the result of radioactive decay in Earth's interior. The isopycnal mixing paradox comes from the fact that many theoretical parameterizations of the isopycnal mixing coefficient ARedi that link it to baroclinic instability project it to be small (of order a few hundred m² s⁻¹) in the ocean interior away from boundary currents. However, direct observations using tracers and floats (largely in the upper ocean) suggest that values of this coefficient are an order of magnitude higher. Helium isotopes equilibrate rapidly with the atmosphere and thus exhibit large gradients along isopycnals while radiocarbon equilibrates slowly and thus exhibits smaller gradients along isopycnals. Thus it might be thought that resolving the isopycnal mixing paradox in favor of the higher observational estimates of ARedi might also solve the helium paradox, by increasing the transport of mantle helium to the surface more than it would radiocarbon. In this paper we show that this is not the case. In a suite of models with different spatially constant and spatially varying values of ARedi the distribution of radiocarbon and helium isotopes is sensitive to the value of ARedi. However, away from strong helium sources in the southeastern Pacific, the relationship between the two is not sensitive, indicating that large-scale advection is the limiting process for removing helium and radiocarbon from the deep ocean. The helium isotopes, in turn, suggest a higher value of ARedi below the thermocline than is seen in theoretical parameterizations based on baroclinic growth rates. We argue that a key part of resolving the isopycnal mixing paradox is to abandon the idea that ARedi has a direct relationship to local baroclinic instability and to the so-called "thickness" mixing coefficient AGM.
 Velocities derived from AVISO sea-surface height observations, adjusted to be nondivergent, are used to simulate the evolution of passive tracers at the ocean surface. Eddy mixing rates are derived from the tracer fields in two ways. First, the method of Nakamura is applied to a sector in the East Pacific. Second, the Osborn-Cox diffusivity is calculated globally to yield estimates of diffusivity in two dimensions. The results from the East Pacific show weak meridional mixing at the surface in the Southern Ocean (&1000 m2 s−1, consistent with previous results) but higher mixing rates (~3000–5000 m2 s−1) in the tropical ocean. The Osborn-Cox diagnostic provides a global picture of mixing rates and agrees reasonably well with the results from the East Pacific. It also shows extremely high mixing rates (~104 m2 s−1) in western boundary current regions. The Osborn-Cox diffusivity is sensitive to the tracer initialization, which we attribute to the presence of anisotropic mixing processes. The mixing rates are strongly influenced by the presence of a mean flow nearly everywhere, as shown by comparison with an eddy-only calculation, with the mean flow absent. Finally, results are compared with other recent estimates of mixing rates using Lagrangian and inverse methods.
Mesoscale eddies play a major role in the transport of tracers in the ocean. Focusing on a sector in the east Pacific, the authors present estimates of eddy diffusivities derived from kinematic tracer simulations using satellite-observed velocity fields. Meridional diffusivities are diagnosed, and how they are related to eddy properties through the mixing length formulation of Ferrari and Nikurashin, which accounts for the suppression of diffusivity due to eddy propagation relative to the mean flow, is shown. The uniqueness of this study is that, through systematically varying the zonal-mean flow, a hypothetical “unsuppressed” diffusivity is diagnosed. At a given latitude, the unsuppressed diffusivity occurs when the zonal-mean flow equals the eddy phase speed. This provides an independent estimate of eddy phase propagation, which agrees well with theoretical arguments. It is also shown that the unsuppressed diffusivity is predicted very well by classical mixing length theory, that is, that it is proportional to the rms eddy velocity times the observed eddy size, with a spatially constant mixing efficiency of 0.35. Then, the suppression factor is estimated and it is shown that it too can be understood quantitatively in terms of easily observed mean flow properties. The authors then extrapolate from these sector experiments to the global scale, making predictions for the global surface eddy diffusivity. Together with a prognostic equation for eddy kinetic energy and a theory explaining observed eddy sizes, these concepts could potentially be used in a closure for eddy diffusivities in coarse-resolution ocean climate models.
The subtropical ocean, exposed to evaporation excess over precipitation, is characterized by regional sea surface salinity maxima (SSS-max). Ocean circulation and mixing processes inject freshwater, establishing a quasi-steady state, though imbalances across the time spectrum result in periods of increasing and decreasing SSS-max. The integrated effect of the array of atmospheric and oceanic forces governing sea surface salinity is shaped by the specific regional ocean basin configuration as well as their coupling to the global ocean system, resulting in SSS-max patterns and locations that display marked differences between the subtropical regimes. We provide a brief description of the SSS-max characteristics of the five subtropical regimes and present aspects of their regional settings that may account for their dissimilarities.