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Offshore transport of organic carbon by upwelling filaments in the Canary Current System

Santana-Falcón, Yeray, Mason, Evan, Arístegui, Javier
Progress in oceanography 2020 v.186 pp. 102322
autumn, biogeochemistry, seasonal variation, spring, summer, total organic carbon
A coupled physical-biogeochemical model (ROMS-PISCES) forced by climatological fields is used to examine the role of upwelling filaments in the offshore exchange of particulate (POC) and dissolved (DOC) organic carbon in the Canary Current eastern boundary upwelling system (CanC EBUS). In this region, mesoscale filaments at Capes Ghir (∼30.5 °N) and Juby (∼27.5 °N) have been frequently described using both observational and numerical data. Due to their semi-permanent presence and unique dynamical characteristics, studies focusing on filaments often provide an incomplete picture of the physical and biological processes at work, and their effects on coast-to-ocean export. The present model experiment confirms the complex three-dimensional structure of the filaments that comprises both offshore and onshore flow components. The model shows strong seasonal variability in the offshore transport mediated by the filaments. Recirculation at the edges of the filaments returns water towards the shore, especially in autumn when they are diverted northwards by the large scale boundary circulation. By contrast, offshore transport peaks during late spring - early summer when onshore recirculation is limited. Overall, the estimated net annual offshore flux of excess total organic carbon (e-TOC, the non-refractory pools of DOC and POC) averages 2.0 ×109 kg C y⁻¹, and may increase up to 4.3 ×109 kg C y⁻¹ during the peak upwelling season, each filament contributing to export of up to 22.6% of the organic carbon within the first 100 km from shore along the CanC EBUS (between 9.5 and 32 ° N). These results strongly support the inclusion of offshore transport estimates by coastal filaments in regional carbon budgets.