The motivation to study the vertical exchanges of tracers associated with mesoscale eddies is that the mean concentration of most oceanic tracers changes rapidly with depth. Because mesoscale processes may transport these tracers vertically, biogeochemists hypothesized that these vertical exchanges may strongly affect global tracer budgets. This hypothesis has motivated a large number of biogeochemical studies that we review here by focusing on the significant advances that have been achieved and the remaining issues and uncertainties. The main question that emerges concerns the importance of the submesoscales (10 km in the horizontal) in these vertical exchanges. Independently, in the past decade, fluid dynamicists examined the three-dimensional properties of submesoscales generated by a mesoscale (100 km in the horizontal) turbulent eddy field. We review their results and discuss how the vertical exchanges associated with these submesoscales may answer the issues raised by biogeochemical studies and inspire future directions.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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