The Capricorn Eddy: A prominent driver of the ecology and future of the southern Great Barrier Reef

S. J. Weeks, A. Bakun, C. R. Steinberg, R. Brinkman, O. Hoegh-Guldberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study focuses on a mesoscale eddy feature, the 'Capricorn Eddy', that typically forms within an indentation of the continental shelf in the southern GBR system. Satellite data at moderate resolution (1 km) are used to examine relevant mesoscale and sub-mesoscale sea surface dynamics. Available in situ measurements and model data are used to validate the satellite observations and to specify the nature of the processes occurring within the water column itself. The characteristic features are identified and physical theory employed to develop an understanding of associated processes. In particular, the effect of the eddy in raising cooler, nutrient-enriched oceanic subsurface water and transporting it to the reef zone, and eventually into the lagoon, is shown. This study demonstrates that the linkages between large-scale oceanography and the meso- and sub-mesoscale patterns are crucial to determining biologic responses on the scale of reef communities and may be key to understanding climate change impacts at the relevant spatial scales.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)975-985
Number of pages11
JournalCoral Reefs
Volume29
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2010

Keywords

  • Capricorn Eddy
  • Coral reefs
  • East Australian Current
  • Great Barrier Reef
  • Mesoscale processes
  • Upwelling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science

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