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Journal Article

Observed characteristics and vertical structure of mesoscale eddies in the Southwest Tropical Pacific


Keppler,  Lydia       
Director’s Research Group OES, The Ocean in the Earth System, MPI for Meteorology, Max Planck Society;
IMPRS on Earth System Modelling, MPI for Meteorology, Max Planck Society;

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Keppler, L., Cravatte, S., Chaigneau, A., Pegliasco, C., Gourdeau, L., & Singh, A. (2018). Observed characteristics and vertical structure of mesoscale eddies in the Southwest Tropical Pacific. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 123, 2731-2756. doi:10.1002/2017JC013712.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0001-822C-B
In the Southwest Pacific Ocean, waters transit from the subtropical gyre before being redistributed equatorward and poleward. While the mean pathways are known, the contribution to the mixing and transport of the water from mesoscale eddies has not been comprehensively investigated. In this research, satellite altimetry data, combined with an eddy detection and tracking algorithm is used to investigate the distribution and surface characteristics of mesoscale eddies in this region of complex bathymetry (10°S–30°S, 140°E–190°E). Detected eddies are then colocalized with in situ data from Argo floats to determine their vertical structure and the effect of eddies on the water masses. The numerous islands affect the eddy behavior as most eddies are formed in the lee of islands, propagate westward and decay when encountering shallow bathymetry. Eddies are sparse and short-lived in the tropical area north of Fiji, impacting only the top 200 meters of water. They do not appear to be able to trap and transport waters in this region. In the Coral Sea, a region of lateral shear between currents transporting waters of different origins, eddies are more numerous and energetic. They affect the water properties down to at least 500 m depth, and anticyclonic eddies trap water to ∼200 m, contributing to the upper thermocline waters mixing and transport. South of New Caledonia, mesoscale eddies are ubiquitous, with typical lifetimes longer than 5 months. They affect the temperature, salinity, and velocities down to ∼1,000 m depth, and weakly contribute to the mixing of lower thermocline waters. © 2018. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.