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Antarctic Slope Current in a Changing Climate

Thompson, Andrew F. and Stewart, Andrew L. and Spence, Paul and Heywood, Karen J. (2018) Antarctic Slope Current in a Changing Climate. Reviews of Geophysics, 56 (4). pp. 741-770. ISSN 8755-1209. doi:10.1029/2018rg000624.

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The Antarctic Slope Current (ASC) is a coherent circulation feature that rings the Antarctic continental shelf and regulates the flow of water toward the Antarctic coastline. The structure and variability of the ASC influences key processes near the Antarctic coastline that have global implications, such as the melting of Antarctic ice shelves and water mass formation that determines the strength of the global overturning circulation. Recent theoretical, modeling, and observational advances have revealed new dynamical properties of the ASC, making it timely to review. Earlier reviews of the ASC focused largely on local classifications of water properties of the ASC's primary front. Here we instead provide a classification of the current's frontal structure based on the dynamical mechanisms that govern both the along‐slope and cross‐slope circulation; these two modes of circulation are strongly coupled, similar to the Antarctic Circumpolar Current. Highly variable motions, such as dense overflows, tides, and eddies are shown to be critical components of cross‐slope and cross‐shelf exchange, but understanding of how the distribution and intensity of these processes will evolve in a changing climate remains poor due to observational and modeling limitations. Results linking the ASC to larger modes of climate variability, such as El Niño, show that the ASC is an integral part of global climate. An improved dynamical understanding of the ASC is still needed to accurately model and predict future Antarctic sea ice extent, the stability of the Antarctic ice sheets, and the Southern Ocean's contribution to the global carbon cycle.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Thompson, Andrew F.0000-0003-0322-4811
Stewart, Andrew L.0000-0001-5861-4070
Spence, Paul0000-0001-5156-2204
Heywood, Karen J.0000-0001-9859-0026
Additional Information:© 2018 American Geophysical Union. Received 4 SEP 2018; Accepted 19 NOV 2018; Accepted article online 30 NOV 2018; Published online 17 DEC 2018. The authors thank V. Pellichero and J.‐B. Sallée for providing access to the freshwater and heat flux data used in Figure 5, D. Menemenlis for providing access to the LLC4320 model simulation output that was used to create Figure 6, and S. Schmidtko, T. Armitage, F.S. Paolo, and E. Duran for providing the data used in Figure 7. Insightful comments on an early version of this draft were provided by Mar Flexas, Stephen Griffies, Laurie Padman, and David Webb. The authors gratefully acknowledge support from the following sources: A. F. T., National Science Foundation grants, OPP‐1246460, OPP‐1644172; A. L. S., National Science Foundation grants, OCE‐1538702, PLR‐1543388, and OCE‐1751386; P. S., Australian Research Council DECRA Fellowship DE150100223; K. J. H., European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation program, grant 741120.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Australian Research CouncilDE150100223
European Research Council (ERC)741120
Subject Keywords:Antarctic Slope Current; fronts; transport; eddies; climate; Antarctic ice sheet
Issue or Number:4
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20190201-085844364
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Official Citation:Thompson, A. F., Stewart, A. L., Spence, P., & Heywood, K. J. (2018). The Antarctic Slope Current in a changing climate. Reviews of Geophysics, 56, 741–770.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:92554
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:01 Feb 2019 17:14
Last Modified:16 Nov 2021 03:51

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