Modeling the dynamical sinking of biogenic particles in oceanic flow
Abstract. We study the problem of sinking particles in a realistic oceanic flow, with major energetic structures in the mesoscale, focussing on the range of particle sizes and densities appropriate for marine biogenic particles. Our aim is to evaluate the relevance of theoretical results of finite size particle dynamics in their applications in the oceanographic context. By using a simplified equation of motion of small particles in a mesoscale simulation of the oceanic velocity field, we estimate the influence of physical processes such as the Coriolis force and the inertia of the particles, and we conclude that they represent negligible corrections to the most important terms, which are passive motion with the velocity of the flow, and a constant added vertical velocity due to gravity. Even if within this approximation three-dimensional clustering of particles can not occur, two-dimensional cuts or projections of the evolving three-dimensional density can display inhomogeneities similar to the ones observed in sinking ocean particles.