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Global Ocean Meridional Overturning

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  • 1 Physical Oceanography Division, NOAA/Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, Miami, Florida
  • | 2 Department of Oceanography, The Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida
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Abstract

A decade-mean global ocean circulation is estimated using inverse techniques, incorporating air–sea fluxes of heat and freshwater, recent hydrographic sections, and direct current measurements. This information is used to determine mass, heat, freshwater, and other chemical transports, and to constrain boundary currents and dense overflows. The 18 boxes defined by these sections are divided into 45 isopycnal (neutral density) layers. Diapycnal transfers within the boxes are allowed, representing advective fluxes and mixing processes. Air–sea fluxes at the surface produce transfers between outcropping layers. The model obtains a global overturning circulation consistent with the various observations, revealing two global-scale meridional circulation cells: an upper cell, with sinking in the Arctic and subarctic regions and upwelling in the Southern Ocean, and a lower cell, with sinking around the Antarctic continent and abyssal upwelling mainly below the crests of the major bathymetric ridges.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Rick Lumpkin, Physical Oceanography Division, NOAA/Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, 4301 Rickenbacker Causeway, Miami, FL 33149. Email: rick.lumpkin@noaa.gov

Abstract

A decade-mean global ocean circulation is estimated using inverse techniques, incorporating air–sea fluxes of heat and freshwater, recent hydrographic sections, and direct current measurements. This information is used to determine mass, heat, freshwater, and other chemical transports, and to constrain boundary currents and dense overflows. The 18 boxes defined by these sections are divided into 45 isopycnal (neutral density) layers. Diapycnal transfers within the boxes are allowed, representing advective fluxes and mixing processes. Air–sea fluxes at the surface produce transfers between outcropping layers. The model obtains a global overturning circulation consistent with the various observations, revealing two global-scale meridional circulation cells: an upper cell, with sinking in the Arctic and subarctic regions and upwelling in the Southern Ocean, and a lower cell, with sinking around the Antarctic continent and abyssal upwelling mainly below the crests of the major bathymetric ridges.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Rick Lumpkin, Physical Oceanography Division, NOAA/Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, 4301 Rickenbacker Causeway, Miami, FL 33149. Email: rick.lumpkin@noaa.gov

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