The thermodynamic balance of the Weddell Gyre

The thermodynamic balance of the Weddell Gyre is assessed from an inverse estimate of the circulation across the gyre's rim. The gyre experiences a weak net buoyancy gain that arises from a leading-order cancellation between two opposing contributions, linked to two cells of water mass transformation and diapycnal overturning. The lower cell involves a cooling-driven densification of 8.4 ± 2.0 Sv of Circumpolar Deep Water and Antarctic Bottom Water near the gyre's southern and western margins. The upper cell entails a freshening-driven conversion of 4.9 ± 2.0 Sv of Circumpolar Deep Water into lighter upper-ocean waters within the gyre interior. The distinct role of salinity between the two cells stems from opposing salinity changes induced by sea ice production, meteoric sources and admixture of fresh upper-ocean waters in the lower cell, which contrasts with coherent reductions in salinity associated with sea ice melting and meteoric sources in the upper cell.


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Authors: Naveira Garabato, Alberto C., Zika, Jan D., Jullion, Loïc, Brown, Peter J., Holland, Paul R., Meredith, Michael P., Bacon, Sheldon

On this site: Michael Meredith, Paul Holland
1 January, 2016
Geophysical Research Letters / 43
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