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Section: New Results

Surface mixing and biological activity

Participants : A. El Aouni , K. Daoudi , H. Yahia , K. Minaoui , A. Benazzouz .

Near-shore water along the NorthWest African margin is one of the world's major upwelling regions. It is associated with physical structures of oceanic fronts which influence the biological productivity. The study of these coherent structures in connection with chlorophyll concentration data is of fundamental importance for understanding the spatial distributions of the plankton. In this work, we study the horizontal stirring and mixing in different upwelling areas using Lagrangian coherent structures (LCSs). These LCSs are calculated using the recent geodesic theory of LCSs. We use these LCSs to study the link between the chlorophyll fronts concentrations and surface mixing, based on 10 years of satellite data. These LCSs move with the flow as material lines, thus the horizontal mixing is calculated from the intersection of these LCSs with the finite time Lyapunov exponents (FTLEs) maps. We compare our results with those of a recent study conducted over the same area, but based on Finite Size Lyapunov Exponents (FSLEs) whose output is a plot of scalar distributions. We discuss the differences between FSLE and geodesic theory of LCS. The latter yields analytical solutions of LCSs, while FSLEs can only provide LCSs for sharp enough ridges of nearly constant height.

Publication: Chaos, American Institute of Physics, HAL