Internal Tides Drive Nutrient Fluxes Into the Deep Chlorophyll Maximum Over Mid‐ocean Ridges

Robyn E. Tuerena, Richard G. Williams, Claire Mahaffey, Clément Vic, J. A. Mattias Green, Alberto Naveira‐garabato, Alexander Forryan, Jonathan Sharples

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Diapycnal mixing of nutrients from the thermocline to the surface sunlit ocean is thought to be relatively weak in the world's subtropical gyres as energy inputs from winds are generally low. The interaction of internal tides with rough topography enhances diapycnal mixing, yet the role of tidally induced diapycnal mixing in sustaining nutrient supply to the surface subtropical ocean remains relatively unexplored. During a field campaign in the North Atlantic subtropical gyre, we tested whether tidal interactions with topography enhance diapycnal nitrate fluxes in the upper ocean. We measured an order of magnitude increase in diapycnal nitrate fluxes to the deep chlorophyll maximum (DCM) over the Mid‐Atlantic Ridge compared to the adjacent deep ocean. Internal tides drive this enhancement, with diapycnal nitrate supply to the DCM increasing by a factor of 8 between neap and spring tides. Using a global tidal dissipation database, we find that this spring‐neap enhancement in diapycnal nitrate fluxes is widespread over ridges and seamounts. Mid‐ocean ridges therefore play an important role in sustaining the nutrient supply to the DCM, and these findings may have important implications in a warming global ocean.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)995-1009
Number of pages15
JournalGlobal Biogeochemical Cycles
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2019


  • 7ref2021


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