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The wineglass effect shapes particle export to the deep ocean in mesoscale eddies - Geophysical Research Letters

Mesoscale eddies in the ocean strongly impact the distribution of planktonic particles, mediating carbon fluxes over ~1/3 of the world ocean. However, mechanisms controlling particle transport through eddies are complex and challenging to measure in situ. Here we show the subsurface distribution of eddy particles funneled into a wineglass shape down to 1000 m, leading to a sevenfold increase of vertical carbon flux in the eddy center versus the eddy flanks, the “wineglass effect”. We show that the slope of the wineglass (R) is the ratio of particle sinking velocity to the radially inward velocity, such that R represents a tool to predict radial particle movement (here 0.05 m s−1). A simple model of eddy spindown predicts such an ageostrophic flow concentrating particles in the eddy center. We explore how size-specific particle flux toward the eddy center impacts eddies' biogeochemistry and export fluxes.

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