Transport and variability of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current in Drake Passage

[1] The baroclinic transport of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) above 3000 m through Drake Passage is 107.3 +/- 10.4 Sv and has been steady between 1975 and 2000. For six hydrographic sections ( 1993 - 2000) along the World Ocean Circulation Experiment (WOCE) line SR1b, the baroclinic transport relative to the deepest common level is 136.7 +/- 7.8 Sv. The ACC transport is carried in two jets, the Subantarctic Front 53 +/- 10 Sv and the Polar Front (PF) 57.5 +/- 5.7 Sv. Southward of the ACC the Southern Antarctic Circumpolar Current transports 9.3 +/- 2.4 Sv. We observe the PF at two latitudes separated by 90 km. This bimodal distribution is related to changes in the circulation and properties of Antarctic Bottom Water. Three realizations of the instantaneous velocity field were obtained with lowered ADCPs. From these observations we obtain near-bottom reference velocities for transport calculations. Net transport due to these reference velocities ranges from -28 to 43 Sv, consistent with previous estimates of variability. The transport in density layers shows systematic variations due to seasonal heating in near-surface layers. Volume transport-weighted mean temperatures vary by 0.40degrees C from spring to summer; a seasonal variation in heat flux of about 0.22 PW. Finally, we review a series of papers from the International Southern Ocean Studies Program. The average yearlong absolute transport is 134 Sv, and the standard deviation of the average is 11.2 Sv; the error of the average transport is 15 to 27 Sv. We emphasize that baroclinic variability is an important contribution to net variability in the ACC.

Details

Publication status:
Published
Author(s):
Authors: Cunningham, S.A., Alderson, S.G., King, B.A., Brandon, M.A.

Date:
1 January, 2003
Journal/Source:
Journal of Geophysical Research / 108
Page(s):
17pp / 8084
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
https://doi.org/10.1029/2001JC001147