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Connecting Antarctic Cross-Slope Exchange with Southern Ocean Overturning

Stewart, Andrew L. and Thompson, Andrew F. (2013) Connecting Antarctic Cross-Slope Exchange with Southern Ocean Overturning. Journal of Physical Oceanography, 43 (7). pp. 1453-1471. ISSN 0022-3670. doi:10.1175/JPO-D-12-0205.1.

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Previous idealized investigations of Southern Ocean overturning have omitted its connection with the Antarctic continental shelves, leaving the influence of shelf processes on Antarctic Bottom Water (AABW) export unconsidered. In particular, the contribution of mesoscale eddies to setting the stratification and overturning circulation in the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) is well established, yet their role in cross-shelf exchange of water masses remains unclear. This study proposes a residual-mean theory that elucidates the connection between Antarctic cross-shelf exchange and overturning in the ACC, and the contribution of mesoscale eddies to the export of AABW. The authors motivate and verify this theory using an eddy-resolving process model of a sector of the Southern Ocean. The strength and pattern of the simulated overturning circulation strongly resemble those of the real ocean and are closely captured by the residual-mean theory. Over the continental slope baroclinic instability is suppressed, and so transport by mesoscale eddies is reduced. This suppression of the eddy fluxes also gives rise to the steep “V”-shaped isopycnals that characterize the Antarctic Slope Front in AABW-forming regions of the continental shelf. Furthermore, to produce water on the continental shelf that is dense enough to sink to the deep ocean, the deep overturning cell must be at least comparable in strength to wind-driven mean overturning on the continental slope. This results in a strong sensitivity of the deep overturning strength to changes in the polar easterly winds.

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription DOIArticle
Stewart, Andrew L.0000-0001-5861-4070
Thompson, Andrew F.0000-0003-0322-4811
Additional Information:© 2013 American Meteorological Society. Manuscript received 14 October 2012, in final form 11 March 2013. A.L.S.’s and A.F.T.’s research was supported by the California Institute of Technology and NSF Award OCE-1235488. The simulations presented herein were conducted using the CITerra computing cluster in the Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences at the California Institute of Technology, and the authors thank the CITerra technicians for facilitating this work. The authors gratefully acknowledge the modeling efforts of the MITgcm team. The authors thank Dimitris Menemenlis, Christopher Wolfe, Rick Salmon, Paul Dellar and Mike Dinniman for useful discussions. The authors thank two anonymous reviewers for constructive criticisms that improved the original draft of this manuscript.
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Subject Keywords:Antarctica; Southern Ocean; Eddies; Meridional overturning circulation; Mesoscale processes; Primitive equations model
Issue or Number:7
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20140207-083123508
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Official Citation:Stewart, Andrew L., Andrew F. Thompson, 2013: Connecting Antarctic Cross-Slope Exchange with Southern Ocean Overturning. J. Phys. Oceanogr., 43, 1453–1471. doi:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:43713
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:11 Feb 2014 23:30
Last Modified:10 Nov 2021 16:41

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