|Rachel H. R. Stanley, Raffaele Ferrari, and Zoe O. Sandwith, Quantifying Patchiness in Net Community Production, Geophysical Research Letters, submitted|
Net community production (NCP) does not occur uniformly in the ocean. Rather, it is intermittent with highly productive patches separated by lifeless waters. It is a central question to our understanding and quantification of NCP whether this patchiness is due to biological or physical processes. Here we use records of NCP rates, measured at three different locations in the surface ocean, to statistically quantify NCP patchiness at scales between 2 km and 10 km, henceforth referred to as the submesoscale. We find that fluctuations in NCP have similar statistical properties to fluctuations in temperature. This in turn suggests that physical processes, which affect both NCP and temperature, rather than biological processes, dominate NCP patchiness at the submesoscale.