Decadal-scale thermohaline variability in the Atlantic sector of the Southern Ocean

An enhanced Altimetry Gravest Empirical Mode (AGEM), including both adiabatic and diabatic trends, is developed for the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) south of Africa using updated hydrographic CTD sections, Argo data, and satellite altimetry. This AGEM has improved accuracy compared to traditional climatologies and other proxy methods. The AGEM for the Atlantic Southern Ocean offers an ideal technique to investigate the thermohaline variability over the past two decades in a key region for water mass exchanges and transformation. In order to assess and attribute changes in the hydrography of the region, we separate the changes into adiabatic and diabatic components. Integrated over the upper 2000 dbar of the ACC south of Africa, results show mean adiabatic changes of 0.16 ± 0.11°C decade−1 and 0.006 ± 0.014 decade−1, and diabatic differences of −0.044 ± 0.13°C decade−1 and −0.01 ± 0.017 decade−1 for temperature and salinity, respectively. The trends of the resultant AGEM, that include both adiabatic and diabatic variability (termed AD-AGEM), show a significant increase in the heat content of the upper 2000 dbar of the ACC with a mean warming of 0.12 ± 0.087°C decade−1. This study focuses on the Antarctic Intermediate Water (AAIW) mass where negative diabatic trends dominate positive adiabatic differences in the Subantarctic Zone (SAZ), with results indicating a cooling (−0.17°C decade−1) and freshening (−0.032 decade−1) of AAIW in this area, whereas south of the SAZ positive adiabatic and diabatic trends together create a cumulative warming (0.31°C decade−1) and salinification (0.014 decade−1) of AAIW.


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Authors: Hutchinson, K., Swart, S., Meijers, A. ORCIDORCID record for A. Meijers, Ansorge, I., Speich, S.

On this site: Andrew Meijers
1 May, 2016
Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans / 121
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