The dynamical landscape of the ocean weather

Similar to the familiar atmospheric weather, an “ocean weather” also exists, populated by energetic cyclonic and anticyclonic structures, fronts and filaments, which redistribute, stir, and mix water masses and their physical and biogeochemical content. The ensemble of these features, which in the ocean covers a spatial scale of 1-100 km approximately and in times durations of hours to weeks, are called the “fine scales”.

The finescale dynamics has a key role in both the direct and inverse energy cascade and therefore in the regulation of the ocean energy budget for the climate system. The fine scales also largely control the abundance, duration, and spatially extend of the vast phytoplanktonic bloom which support the large majority of the trophic web in the ocean. Here I will show some examples of how the ocean weather structures physical, chemical, and biotic properties of the ocean in a strongly contrasted and dynamical landscape. Using in particular satellite images and Lagrangian methods, I’ll discuss how dynamical features like transport barriers, retentive regions, and mixing zones can be identified, and used for a number of issues, including the comprehension of the biogeochemical cycles, the design of marine protected areas, the response to oil spills, and the assessment of geoengeneering techniques.