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The global conveyor belt from a Southern Ocean perspective

By Daniele Iudicone, Sabrina Speich, Gurvan Madec and Bruno Blanke


Recent studies have proposed the Southern Ocean as the site of large water-mass transformations; other studies propose that this basin is among the main drivers for North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW) circulation. A modeling contribution toward understanding the role of this basin in the global thermohaline circulation can thus be of interest. In particular, key pathways and transformations associated with the thermohaline circulation in the Southern Ocean of an ice–ocean coupled model have been identified here through the extensive use of quantitative Lagrangian diagnostics. The model Southern Ocean is characterized by a shallow overturning circulation transforming 20 Sv (1 Sv 106 m3 s?1) of thermocline waters into mode waters and a deep overturning related to the formation of Antarctic Bottom Water. Mode and intermediate waters contribute to 80% of the upper branch of the overturning in the Atlantic Ocean north of 30°S. A net upwelling of 11.5 Sv of Circumpolar Deep Waters is simulated in the Southern Ocean. Antarctic Bottom Water upwells into deep layers in the Pacific basin, forming Circumpolar Deep Water and subsurface thermocline water. The Southern Ocean is a powerful consumer of NADW: about 40% of NADW net export was found to upwell in the Southern Ocean, and 40% is transformed into Antarctic Bottom Water. The upwelling occurs south of the Polar Front and mainly in the Indian and Pacific Ocean sectors. The transformation of NADW to lighter water occurs in two steps: vertical mixing at the base of the mixed layer first decreases the salinity of the deep water upwelling south of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, followed by heat input by air–sea and diffusive fluxes to complete the transformation to mode and intermediate waters.<br/

Topics: GC
Year: 2008
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Provided by: e-Prints Soton
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