Introduction to the POMME special section: Thermocline ventilation and biogeochemical tracer distribution in the northeast Atlantic Ocean and impact of mesoscale dynamics



[1] Conducted in the northeast Atlantic Ocean (15°20′–21°20′W, 38°N–45°N), the Programme Océan Multidisciplinaire Méso Echelle (POMME) is a research project aimed at a better understanding of the biological production and the carbon budget of the region in relation to the formation mechanisms of the 11°–12°C mode water of the northeast Atlantic. With the help of two research vessels, several tens of floats and drifters, and nine moorings, the field experiment was carried out between autumn 2000 and autumn 2001, with a more intensive phase in the winter and early spring of 2001. The field experiment resolved small (several kilometers) to regional (several hundred kilometers) scales and daily to seasonal variability. A first analysis of the rich data set focused on the large-scale and the mesoscale variability. It shows that the distribution of water mass characteristics and biological activity is strongly influenced by the mesoscales in this supposedly quiet transition zone between the subtropical and subpolar gyres. The seasonal variability, however, presents an imprint of the large-scale structures with a clear north-south gradient in properties and budgets. This region is found on an annual average to be a sink of atmospheric CO2. Smaller scales, associated with fronts and filaments, were clearly observed in many fields (temperature, but also chlorophyll, oxygen, biogenic particles, etc.), with modeling studies suggesting that they play a significant role in subduction, ventilation, and transport of biogeochemical tracers in the POMME region.