PerspectiveOceans

Eddies Masquerade as Planetary Waves

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Science  21 Oct 2011:
Vol. 334, Issue 6054, pp. 318-319
DOI: 10.1126/science.1208892

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Summary

The advent of satellite-based remote sensing of ocean color in the late 1970s (1) provided the first largescale views of chlorophyll distributions in the upper ocean. These distributions are a proxy for the biomass of phytoplankton, which drive oceanic productivity. More recently, ocean color measurements have been combined with satellite data on sea-surface height (SSH) and other physical properties of the ocean to elucidate the processes that regulate primary production in the sea. On page 328 of this issue, Chelton et al. (2) further advance this field by showing that ocean eddies exert a strong influence on near-surface chlorophyll.