Preparing for the next interdisciplinary challenges unlocked by SWOT fine-scale observations
Event: 2015 Ocean Surface Topography Science Team Meeting
Session: Science II: Mesoscale and sub-mesoscale ocean processes: current understanding and preparation for SWOT
Presentation type: Type Poster
SWOT will substantially improve our understanding of the fine scales of the ocean circulation. These novel observations will be primarily a leap forward for physical oceanography. At the same time, they will bridge an observational gap on a spatiotemporal domain critical for interdisciplinary problems. Here we aim at identifying some of the new challenges in biogeochemistry and marine ecology that SWOT may contribute to address. In biogeochemistry, a key open question is the effect of filaments on the export of anthropogenic carbon inside the ocean. This question is important for better quantifying the role of the ocean in the climate system and relies on the possibilities of estimating at the ocean upper layer submesoscale vertical velocities, which in turn may be accessible by high resolution measurements of sea surface heights provided by SWOT and re-analysed in theoretical framework like surface quasi-geostrophy. In marine ecology, lot of interest is now concentrated on the connection between submesoscale fronts and patchiness of marine organisms, in particular fish. The possibility of detecting from space ecological hotspots - regions which aggregate biomass, trophic interactions, or biodiversity – would be a major step forward in the design of conservation policies and in the management of marine resources. For both these biogeochemical and ecological applications, we describe here model studies and proposed multiplatform in situ strategies which we are designing in preparation of the SWOT mission, in particular for its fast sampling phase, during which both the spatial and the temporal variability of synoptic maps of sea surface height will be observed for the first time.