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Keywords:

  • East Australian Current;
  • chlorophyll a;
  • entrainment;
  • mesoscale eddies;
  • ocean color;
  • remote sensing

[1] The Tasman Sea is unique - characterised by a strong seasonal western boundary current that breaks down into a complicated field of mesoscale eddies almost immediately after separating from the coast. Through a 16-year analysis of Tasman Sea eddies, we identify a region along the southeast Australian coast which we name ‘Eddy Avenue’ where eddies have higher sea level anomalies, faster rotation and greater sea surface temperature and chlorophylla anomalies. The density of cyclonic and anticyclonic eddies within Eddy Avenue is 23% and 16% higher respectively than the broader Tasman Sea. We find that Eddy Avenue cyclonic and anticyclonic eddies have more strongly differentiated biological properties than those of the broader Tasman Sea, as a result of larger anticyclonic eddies formed from Coral Sea water depressing chl. aconcentrations, and for coastal cyclonic eddies due to the entrainment of nutrient-rich shelf waters. Cyclonic eddies within Eddy Avenue have almost double the chlorophylla (0.35 mg m−3) of anticyclonic eddies (0.18 mg m−3). The average chlorophyll a concentration for cyclonic eddies is 16% higher in Eddy Avenue and 28% lower for anticyclonic eddies when compared to the Tasman Sea. With a strengthening East Australian Current, the propagation of these eddies will have significant implications for heat transport and the entrainment and connectivity of plankton and larval fish populations.