Ventilation of the Southern Ocean pycnocline

Ocean ventilation is the transfer of tracers and young water from the surface down into the ocean interior. The tracers that can be transported to depth include anthropogenic heat and carbon, both of which are critical to understanding future climate trajectories. Ventilation occurs in both high- and midlatitude regions, but it is the southern midlatitudes that are responsible for the largest fraction of anthropogenic heat and carbon uptake; such Southern Ocean ventilation is the focus of this review. Southern Ocean ventilation occurs through a chain of interconnected mechanisms, including the zonally averaged meridional overturning circulation, localized subduction, eddy-driven mixing along isopycnals, and lateral transport by subtropical gyres. To unravel the complex pathways of ventilation and reconcile conflicting results, here we assess the relative contribution of each of these mechanisms, emphasizing the three-dimensional and temporally varying nature of the ventilation of the Southern Ocean pycnocline. We conclude that Southern Ocean ventilation depends on multiple processes and that simplified frameworks that explain ventilation changes through a single process are insufficient.


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Authors: Morrison, Adele K., Waugh, Darryn W., Hogg, Andrew McC., Jones, Daniel C. ORCIDORCID record for Daniel C. Jones, Abernathey, Ryan P.

On this site: Dan Jones
1 January, 2022
Annual Review of Marine Science / 14
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