The Deep Equatorial Circulation in the Ocean
How do abyssal waters get back to the surface? This question has puzzled oceanographers for years. At Stanford, we developed a theory according to which equatorially trapped waves1 propagate down into the ocean abyss, essentially break upon reflection off the sea floor, and thus mix water from the deep up towards the surface. The encounter between this old water from the deep and the sea surface can result in large exchanges of CO2 and heat between the ocean and atmosphere, with implications for climate. In parallel, a team of researcher at LEGOS (Toulouse) conducted recently a major observational campaign to investigate the deep equatorial dynamics in the Pacific Ocean.
Within this project, LEGOS and Stanford will join force to enhance our knowledge of the equatorial circulation in the ocean. Our research plan is divided into two parts: 1-interpreting the observations carried by LEGOS using the framework of the theory developed at Stanford, 2-initiating an ambitious modeling effort to reproduce those currents and get insights on their energy source.