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Oceanic Rossby Waves Acting As a "Hay Rake" for Ecosystem Floating By-Products

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Science  28 Nov 2003:
Vol. 302, Issue 5650, pp. 1548-1551
DOI: 10.1126/science.1090729

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Abstract

Recent satellite observations of Rossby waves and chlorophyll anomalies propagating in subtropical gyres have suggested that wave-induced upwelling could stimulate photosynthesis. Instead, we show that chlorophyll maxima are located in abnormally warm water, in Rossby wave–induced convergences. This excludes inputs of nutrients from deeper water. We argue that the sea color anomalies are not caused by chlorophyll but by floating particles evolved from the ecosystem and accumulated by Rossby waves, acting as “marine hay rakes,” in convergence zones. Such processes may be determinant for the distribution of living organisms in oligotrophic areas.

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