Simple models for understanding plankton dynamics in mesoscale ocean turbulence

Mathematical Biology Seminar
Wednesday, September 3, 2008 - 11:00am for 1 hour (actually 50 minutes)
Skiles 255
Annalisa Bracco – School of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences, Georgia Tech
Christine Heitsch
In the ocean, coherent vortices account for a large portion of the ocean turbulent kinetic energy and their presence significantly affects the dynamics and the statistical properties of ocean flows, with important consequences on transport processes. Mesoscale vortices also affect the population dynamics of phyto- and zooplankton, and are associated with secondary currents responsible for localized vertical fluxes of nutrients. The fact that the nutrient fluxes have a fine spatial and temporal detail, generated by the eddy field, has important consequences on primary productivity and the horizontal velocity field induced by the eddies has been suggested to play an important role in determining plankton patchiness. Owing to their trapping properties, vortices can also act as shelters for temporarily less-favoured planktonic species. In this contribution, I will review some of the transport properties associated with coherent vortices and their impact on the dynamics of planktoni ecosystems, focusing on the simplified conceptual model provided by two-dimensional turbulence.