Eddy Induced, Cross-Shelf Transport of Drifting Objects or Actively Swimming Organisms

Lawrence J Pratt, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA, United States, Irina Rypina, WHOI, Woods Hole, United States, Samuel Entner, Wentworth Institution of Technology, United States, Deepak Cherian, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Climate and Global Dynamics, Boulder, United States and Amanda Anderson, University of Kansas, United States
The Lagrangian characteristics of the surface flow field arising when an idealized, anticyclonic, mesoscale, isolated deep-ocean eddy collides with continental slope and shelf topography are explored. In addition to fluid parcel trajectories, we consider the trajectories of larvae such as the American Eel (Anguilla rostrata) and other biological organisms that are able to navigate and swim, and for which shallow water is a destination. Of particular interest is the movement of organisms initially located in the offshore eddy, the manner in which the eddy influences the ability of the organisms to reach the shelf break, and the spatial and temporal distributions of organisms that do so. For passively drifting surface objects, or very slow swimmers, the organisms arrive at the shelf break in distinct pulses, with different pulses occurring at different locations along the shelf break. This phenomenon is closely related to the episodic formation of trailing vortices that are formed after the eddy collides with the continental slope, turns and travels parallel to the coast. Analysis based on finite-time Lyapunov exponents reveals initial locations of all successful trajectories reaching the shoreline, and provides maps of the transport pathways showing that much of the cross-shelf-break transport occurs in the lee of the eddy as it moves parallel to the shore. The same analysis shows that the onshore transport is interrupted after a trailing vortex detaches. As the swimming speeds are increased, the organisms are influenced less by the eddy and tend to show up en mass and in a single pulse.