Historical observations of the large-scale flow and frontal structure of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current in the Scotia Sea region were combined with the wind-induced surface Ekman transport to produce a composite flow field. This was used with a Lagrangian model to investigate transport of Antarctic krill. Particle displacements from known krill spawning areas that result from surface Ekman drift, a composite large-scale flow, and the combination of the two were calculated. Surface Ekman drift alone only transports particles a few kilometres over the 150-day krill larval development time. The large-scale composite flow moves particles several hundreds of kilometres over the same time, suggesting this is the primary transport mechanism. An important contribution of the surface Ekman drift on particles released along the continental shelf break west of the Antarctic Peninsula is moving them north-northeast into the high-speed core of the southern Antarctic Circumpolar Current Front, which then transports the particles to South Georgia in about 140–160 days. Similar particle displacement calculations using surface flow fields obtained from the Fine Resolution Antarctic Model do not show overall transport from the Antarctic Peninsula to South Georgia due to the inaccurate position of the southern Antarctic Circumpolar Current Front in the simulated circulation fields. The particle transit times obtained with the composite large-scale flow field are consistent with regional abundances of larval krill developmental stages collected in the Scotia Sea. These results strongly suggest that krill populations west of the Antarctic Peninsula provide the source for the krill populations found around South Georgia.
Authors: Hofmann, Eileen E., Klinck, John M., Locarnini, Ricardo A., Fach, Bettina, Murphy, Eugene