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An example of annual variations over the past decade at the U.S. JGOFS Bermuda Atlantic Time Series Study (BATS) station. (a) nitrate concentrations, (b) phosphate concentrations, (c) primary production, (d) chlorophyll. Nutrients are mixed upwards into surface waters through eddy diffusion throughout the year; convective overturn deepens the mixed layer during fall/winter leading to further mixing. (Figure modified from Steinberg et al. (2001) )

Turbulent Mixing and Biophysical Interactions

Mixing occurs over a broad range of scales and plays a major role in transferring energy, materials, and organisms throughout the global ocean. Mixing influences primary productivity, plankton community structure, biogeochemical processes (e.g., carbon sequestration) in the surface and deep ocean, and the transport of material to the deep ocean. Quantifying mixing is essential to improving models of ocean circulation and ecosystem dynamics.

Examples of Key Scientific Questions

  • What role does vertical mixing in the ocean’s interior play in determining the global distribution of heat and nutrients in the ocean?
  • What factors control the development of the mixed surface layer, the entrainment of stratifi ed waters into the mixed layer, and the exchange of gases between the mixed layer and the atmosphere?
  • What role do vertical and horizontal mixing play in determining plankton community structure in the upper ocean?
  • How is benthic community structure aff ected by nearbottom turbulent events?