Abstract

For the first time, the temperature transport of the Agulhas Current is quantified in a time series. Over a 25-month mooring deployment at 34°S, seven tall moorings were instrumented to measure current velocity, temperature, and salinity. Current and pressure-recording inverted echosounders were used to extend geostrophic velocity, temperature, and salinity records to 300 km offshore. In the mean, the current transports 3.8 PW of heat southwards relative to 0°C: -76 Sv at a transport weighted temperature of 12.3°C. A 0.9 PW standard deviation in temperature transport is due to variability in both volume transport and the temperature field. Meandering of the current core dominates variability in the temperature field by warming temperatures offshore and cooling temperatures near the coast. However, meandering has a limited impact on the temperature transport, which varies more closely with a deepening and broadening of the current associated with an inshore isotherm shoaling and an offshore isotherm deepening. Stronger southward temperature transports correspond to a deeper current transporting more volume, yet at a cooler transport weighted temperature. Seasonality is not observed in the temperature transport time series, possibly due to the offsetting effects of cooler temperatures during times of seasonally stronger volume transports. Although volume transport and temperature transport are highly correlated, the large variability in transport weighted temperature means that using volume transport alone to infer temperature transport results in an error which could be as large as 24% of the South Indian Ocean heat transport.

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