Isopycnal and Diapycnal Mixing at the Cape Verde Frontal Zone

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  • 1 Institut für Meereskunde an der Universität Kiel, Kiel, Germany
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Abstract

The Cape Verde Frontal Zone separates the North and the South Atlantic Central Waters in the eastern North Atlantic. It also represents the boundary between the ventilated subtropical gyre and the quasi-stagnant shadow zone in the southeast. The thermohaline front is nearly compensated with respect to density, and density parameters RP, suggest the existence of double-diffusive processes. Datasets from three cruises to the region, approximately one year apart each, are used to determine the effects of double-diffusive diapycnal versus isopycnal mixing. For this purpose results from the usual temperature-salinity analysis assuming isopycnal mixing are compared to results from a multiparameter analysis where nutrient and oxygen data are also used. Significant diapycnal fluxes are found in the frontal zone between 200 and 300 m, with water mass contents being changed by more than 20% through diapycnal mixing. The associated buoyancy fluxes have a similar magnitude as surface fluxes in the area and thus represent an important contribution to the vertical balances of heat and salt.

Abstract

The Cape Verde Frontal Zone separates the North and the South Atlantic Central Waters in the eastern North Atlantic. It also represents the boundary between the ventilated subtropical gyre and the quasi-stagnant shadow zone in the southeast. The thermohaline front is nearly compensated with respect to density, and density parameters RP, suggest the existence of double-diffusive processes. Datasets from three cruises to the region, approximately one year apart each, are used to determine the effects of double-diffusive diapycnal versus isopycnal mixing. For this purpose results from the usual temperature-salinity analysis assuming isopycnal mixing are compared to results from a multiparameter analysis where nutrient and oxygen data are also used. Significant diapycnal fluxes are found in the frontal zone between 200 and 300 m, with water mass contents being changed by more than 20% through diapycnal mixing. The associated buoyancy fluxes have a similar magnitude as surface fluxes in the area and thus represent an important contribution to the vertical balances of heat and salt.

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