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An Idealized Model of Weddell Gyre Export Variability

Su, Zhan and Stewart, Andrew L. and Thompson, Andrew F. (2014) An Idealized Model of Weddell Gyre Export Variability. Journal of Physical Oceanography, 44 (6). pp. 1671-1688. ISSN 0022-3670. doi:10.1175/JPO-D-13-0263.1.

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Recent observations suggest that the export of Antarctic Bottom Water (AABW) from the Weddell Sea has a seasonal cycle in its temperature and salinity that is correlated with annual wind stress variations. This variability has been attributed to annual vertical excursions of the isopycnals in the Weddell Gyre, modifying the water properties at the depth of the Orkney Passage. Recent studies attribute these variations to locally wind-driven barotropic dynamics in the northern Weddell Sea boundary current. This paper explores an alternative mechanism in which the isopycnals respond directly to surface Ekman pumping, which is coupled to rapidly responding mesoscale eddy buoyancy fluxes near the gyre boundary. A conceptual model of the interface that separates Weddell Sea Deep Water from Circumpolar Deep Water is described in which the bounding isopycnal responds to a seasonal oscillation in the surface wind stress. Different parameterizations of the mesoscale eddy diffusivity are tested. The model accurately predicts the observed phases of the temperature and salinity variability in relationship to the surface wind stress. The model, despite its heavy idealization, also accounts for more than 50% of the observed oscillation amplitude, which depends on the strength of the seasonal wind variability and the parameterized eddy diffusivity. These results highlight the importance of mesoscale eddies in modulating the export of AABW in narrow boundary layers around the Antarctic margins.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Su, Zhan0000-0002-2699-431X
Stewart, Andrew L.0000-0001-5861-4070
Thompson, Andrew F.0000-0003-0322-4811
Additional Information:© 2014 American Meteorological Society. Manuscript received 4 December 2013, in final form 14 February 2014. Z.S.’s research was supported NSF Award AST-1109299. A.L.S.’s and A.F.T.’s research was supported NSF Award OCE-1235488. We thank Arnold L. Gordon and Bruce Huber for providing the M3 mooring data and Alberto Naveira Garabato for useful conversations related to this study. We also thank two anonymous reviewers for helpful suggestions that improved the manuscript.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Subject Keywords:Circulation/Dynamics, Abyssal circulation, Bottom currents, Ekman pumping/transport, Mesoscale processes, Ocean dynamics, Topographic effects
Issue or Number:6
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20140708-150815163
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Official Citation:Su, Zhan, Andrew L. Stewart, Andrew F. Thompson, 2014: An Idealized Model of Weddell Gyre Export Variability. J. Phys. Oceanogr., 44, 1671–1688. doi:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:47082
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:08 Jul 2014 22:23
Last Modified:10 Nov 2021 17:34

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