Operational Systems

Preparing the Towed Instrument Chain (TIC) at the speedboat EDDY -image: Christian Schmid/HZG-

Submesoscale Dynamics

Only recently, it became clear that the entire world’s oceans are significantly influenced by small ocean eddies and fronts. These submesoscale features are only a few hundred metres to a few kilometres in size, but seem to play an important role for phytoplankton production and the transport of energy in the oceans. Due to their small sizes and very short life times of only hours to days, only few measurements could be made to date resolving them sufficiently.

To locate the eddies the Institute of Coastal Research uses aeroplanes and a zeppelin equipped with extremly sensitive infrared cameras. Thereafter, speed boats are used to survey the eddies repeatedly before they decay. In order to carry our measurements in many different water depths simultaneously, a measurement chain has been developed which samples the upper 50 m of the water column at tow speeds up to10 knots.

Such measurements are conducted by the department of Submesoscale Dynamics in combination with other remote and in situ observation techniques (Expedition Clockwork Ocean). The data provide insight into the physical and biogeochemical dynamics of submesoscale processes in an unprecedented resolution. High-resolution numerical models are used for the further interpretation of the measurements. Presently, the Regional Ocean Modeling System (ROMS) is applied in a multiple offline-nested mode to the area of the observations.

The department is also contributing to the Coastal Observing System for Northern and Arctic Seas (COSYNA) and is involved in investigations into impact of large-scale offshore windfarm construction on the North Sea.