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A vertical slice through the ocean at one moment in time: Amala Mahadevan's three-dimensional model simulation shows how upper-ocean fronts and eddies affect the structure of water density (left panel) and chlorophyll concentration, a proxy for phytoplankton abundance (right panel), during spring phytoplankton growth. In the left panel, stacked-up, compressed density contours (white lines) at 220 km indicate an ocean front, like a weather front, separating less-dense water from denser water. In the model, eddies form at such fronts, spreading lower-density water (aqua and warmer colors) over dense water (dark blue). The right panel shows how the distribution of high chlorophyll concentration (green, yellow and red) has evolved in response to the eddy motions. Note in particular how chlorophyll is pulled downward at the front (220 km), and eddy edges, exporting carbon from surface to deep waters.

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Last updated: July 6, 2012
 


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