Time-space variability of satellite chlorophyll-α in the Easter Island Province, southeastern Pacific Ocean
The Easter Island Province (EIP) encompasses Easter Island (EI) and Salas y Gómez Island (SGI), which are located in the eastern boundary of the south Pacific subtropical gyre. This province is one of the most oligotrophic region in the world ocean with a high degree of endemism and distinguished by having the clearest waters in the world. Issues related to the biophysical coupling that sustains biological production in this region are still poorly understood. Satellite data compiled over a ten year period was used to characterize the spatial and temporal chlorophyll-α (Chl-α) variability around the EIP and determine the relationship between Chl-α and several physical forcing. Results shows a clear Chl-α annual cycle around the EIP, with maximum concentration during the austral winter. Chl-α spatial distribution shows a strong zonal dipole over EI that divides the island into two zones: southeast and northwest. Due to its small size and low elevation of SGI, it does not generate a significant local effect in Chl-α concentration, but a Chl-α increase is observed southeast of this island (~2 km) associated to a seamount. The mean geostrophic current in the EIP flows eastward, associated with the southeastern boundary of the subtropical gyre. However, recurrent mesoscale eddies traveling northwestward and produce large surface current variability with periods of high velocities in opposite direction. In the spring, wakes of high Chl-α concentration can be observed over EI, associated with the generation and detachment of submesoscale eddies from EI, which could have important biological implications during periods of low regional biological production.