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Bottom Temperature Fluctuations on the Continental Slope of the Northwest Atlantic Ocean

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Abstract

Temperature fluctuations on the western continental slopes of the Atlantic Ocean have been measured at three stations on the ocean bottom at depths from 1400 to 2100 m and from 17° to 35°N. All three stations were in or near the deep western boundary current. Daily readings were taken for four to six years. Maximum-to-minimum fluctuations of the isotherms were 800 m off Cape Hatteras, with average temperature of 3.80°C. Temperature appeared episode-driven, with minima consistently near 3.60°C and maxima near 4.10°C. Large swings in temperature had a duration of 10–30 days. Data from Antigua also appeared episode-driven but showed fewer large shifts in temperature, but the maximum-to-minimum fluctuations of the isotherms were 400 m. Hence interesting motions may exist in the seldom-studied region near the bend in the Antilles Islands chain. These two stations are vastly different from previously reported data from the Blake Plateau in which temperature increases are consistently more rapid than decreases and suggest frequent overflow currents. Annual oscillations were seen at the Antigua and Blake Plateau stations, but no semiannual effect was seen.

Corresponding author address: Howard W. Broek, 57 White Oak Circle, St. Charles, IL 60174-4164. Email: cbroek@ficientsolutions.com

Abstract

Temperature fluctuations on the western continental slopes of the Atlantic Ocean have been measured at three stations on the ocean bottom at depths from 1400 to 2100 m and from 17° to 35°N. All three stations were in or near the deep western boundary current. Daily readings were taken for four to six years. Maximum-to-minimum fluctuations of the isotherms were 800 m off Cape Hatteras, with average temperature of 3.80°C. Temperature appeared episode-driven, with minima consistently near 3.60°C and maxima near 4.10°C. Large swings in temperature had a duration of 10–30 days. Data from Antigua also appeared episode-driven but showed fewer large shifts in temperature, but the maximum-to-minimum fluctuations of the isotherms were 400 m. Hence interesting motions may exist in the seldom-studied region near the bend in the Antilles Islands chain. These two stations are vastly different from previously reported data from the Blake Plateau in which temperature increases are consistently more rapid than decreases and suggest frequent overflow currents. Annual oscillations were seen at the Antigua and Blake Plateau stations, but no semiannual effect was seen.

Corresponding author address: Howard W. Broek, 57 White Oak Circle, St. Charles, IL 60174-4164. Email: cbroek@ficientsolutions.com

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