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Ocean processes at the Antarctic continental slope

Heywood, Karen J. and Schmidtko, Sunke and Heuzé, Céline and Kaiser, Jan and Jickells, Timothy D. and Queste, Bastien Y. and Stevens, David P. and Wadley, Martin and Thompson, Andrew F. and Fielding, Sophie and Guihen, Damien and Creed, Elizabeth and Ridley, Jeff K. and Smith, Walker (2014) Ocean processes at the Antarctic continental slope. Philosophical Transactions A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, 372 (2019). Art. No. 20130047. ISSN 1364-503X. PMCID PMC4032510.

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The Antarctic continental shelves and slopes occupy relatively small areas, but, nevertheless, are important for global climate, biogeochemical cycling and ecosystem functioning. Processes of water mass transformation through sea ice formation/melting and ocean–atmosphere interaction are key to the formation of deep and bottom waters as well as determining the heat flux beneath ice shelves. Climate models, however, struggle to capture these physical processes and are unable to reproduce water mass properties of the region. Dynamics at the continental slope are key for correctly modelling climate, yet their small spatial scale presents challenges both for ocean modelling and for observational studies. Cross-slope exchange processes are also vital for the flux of nutrients such as iron from the continental shelf into the mixed layer of the Southern Ocean. An iron-cycling model embedded in an eddy-permitting ocean model reveals the importance of sedimentary iron in fertilizing parts of the Southern Ocean. Ocean gliders play a key role in improving our ability to observe and understand these small-scale processes at the continental shelf break. The Gliders: Excellent New Tools for Observing the Ocean (GENTOO) project deployed three Seagliders for up to two months in early 2012 to sample the water to the east of the Antarctic Peninsula in unprecedented temporal and spatial detail. The glider data resolve small-scale exchange processes across the shelf-break front (the Antarctic Slope Front) and the front's biogeochemical signature. GENTOO demonstrated the capability of ocean gliders to play a key role in a future multi-disciplinary Southern Ocean observing system.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription CentralArticle
Heywood, Karen J.0000-0001-9859-0026
Thompson, Andrew F.0000-0003-0322-4811
Additional Information:© 2014 The Authors. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited. The paper is dedicated in memory of Eberhard Fahrbach, world-leading polar oceanographer, whose ideas and enthusiasm inspired us and others. This research was carried out on the High Performance Computing Cluster supported by the Research and Specialist Computing Support service at UEA. We thank Caltech, iRobot and UEA for supporting the Seaglider campaign. NERC research funding supported the iron modelling (NE/C50633X/1), Seaglider deployments (NE/H01439X/1 and NE/H014756/1) and CMIP5 model analysis (NE/I018239/1). J.K.R. is supported by the Joint DECC/Defra Met Office Hadley Centre Climate Programme (GA01101). We acknowledge the WCRP’s Working Group on Coupled Modelling, responsible for CMIP, and thank the CMIP5 climate modelling groups for releasing their model output. CMIP5 datasets are available through their portal; the oceanographic observed datasets are available from BODC. For the iron-cycling model code, contact MartinWadley (
Funding AgencyGrant Number
UEA Research and Specialist Computing SupportUNSPECIFIED
Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)NE/C50633X/1
Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)NE/H01439X/1
Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)NE/H014756/1
Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)NE/I018239/1
Joint DECC/Defra Met Office Hadley Centre Climate ProgrammeGA01101
Subject Keywords:Antarctic continental shelf, Antarctic Slope Front, ocean glider, water mass, climate model, iron fertilization
Issue or Number:2019
PubMed Central ID:PMC4032510
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20140717-145735774
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Heywood KJ et al. 2014 Ocean processes at the Antarctic continental slope. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A 372: 20130047.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:47305
Deposited By: Joanne McCole
Deposited On:17 Jul 2014 23:52
Last Modified:09 Mar 2020 13:18

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