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Louise C. Sime, David P. Stevens, Karen J. Heywood, and Kevin I. C. Oliver

Abstract

A decomposition of meridional overturning circulation (MOC) cells into geostrophic vertical shears, Ekman, and bottom pressure–dependent (or external mode) circulation components is presented. The decomposition requires the following information: 1) a density profile wherever bathymetry changes to construct the vertical shears component, 2) the zonal-mean zonal wind stress for the Ekman component, and 3) the mean depth-independent velocity information over each isobath to construct the external mode. The decomposition is applied to the third-generation Hadley Centre Coupled Ocean–Atmosphere General Circulation Model (HadCM3) to determine the meridional variability of these individual components within the Atlantic Ocean. The external mode component is shown to be extremely important where western boundary currents impinge on topography, and also in the area of the overflows. The Sverdrup balance explains the shape of the external mode MOC component to first order, but the time variability of the external mode exhibits only a very weak dependence on the wind stress curl. Thus, the Sverdrup balance cannot be used to determine the external mode changes when examining temporal change in the MOC. The vertical shears component allows the time-mean and the time-variable upper North Atlantic MOC cell to be deduced at 25°S and 50°N. A stronger dependency on the external mode and Ekman components between 8° and 35°N and in the regions of the overflows means that hydrographic sections need to be supplemented by bottom pressure and wind stress information at these latitudes. At the decadal time scale, variability in Ekman transport is less important than that in geostrophic shears. In the Southern Hemisphere the vertical shears component is dominant at all time scales, suggesting that hydrographic sections alone may be suitable for deducing change in the MOC at these latitudes.

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Loic Jullion, Karen J. Heywood, Alberto C. Naveira Garabato, and David P. Stevens

Abstract

The confluence between the Brazil Current and the Malvinas Current [the Brazil–Malvinas Confluence (BMC)] in the Argentine Basin is characterized by a complicated thermohaline structure favoring the exchanges of mass, heat, and salt between the subtropical gyre and the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC). Analysis of thermohaline properties of hydrographic sections in the BMC reveals strong interactions between the ACC and subtropical fronts. In the Subantarctic Front, Subantarctic Mode Water (SAMW), Antarctic Intermediate Water (AAIW), and Circumpolar Deep Water (CDW) warm (become saltier) by 0.4° (0.08), 0.3° (0.02), and 0.6°C (0.1), respectively. In the subtropical gyre, AAIW and North Atlantic Deep Water have cooled (freshened) by 0.4° (0.07) and 0.7°C (0.11), respectively.

To quantify those ACC–subtropical gyre interactions, a box inverse model surrounding the confluence is built. The model diagnoses a subduction of 16 ± 4 Sv (1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1) of newly formed SAMW and AAIW under the subtropical gyre corresponding to about half of the total subduction rate of the South Atlantic found in previous studies. Cross-frontal heat (0.06 PW) and salt (2.4 × 1012 kg s−1) gains by the ACC in the BMC contribute to the meridional poleward heat and salt fluxes across the ACC. These estimates correspond to perhaps half of the total cross-ACC poleward heat flux. The authors’ results highlight the BMC as a key region in the subtropical–ACC exchanges.

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Paul A. Dodd, Martin R. Price, Karen J. Heywood, and Miles Pebody

Abstract

A compact water sampler rated to full ocean depth has been deployed from an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) to enable oceanographic tracer measurements. Techniques developed to allow the instrument to collect up to 49 samples of sufficient purity for tracer measurement without the need for extensive flushing have increased its sampling frequency, allowing a 200-mL seawater sample to be collected in 10 min. This is achieved by flushing the instrument and sample containers before deployment with a fluid of known properties that can be detected after recovery using salinity analysis. A deployment in which water samples were collected for oxygen isotope ratio analysis is presented as an example. Factors limiting the reliability of the instrument when deployed from an AUV are identified and procedures are developed to address critical problems.

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Andrew F. Thompson, Ayah Lazar, Christian Buckingham, Alberto C. Naveira Garabato, Gillian M. Damerell, and Karen J. Heywood

Abstract

The importance of submesoscale instabilities, particularly mixed layer baroclinic instability and symmetric instability, on upper-ocean mixing and energetics is well documented in regions of strong, persistent fronts such as the Kuroshio and the Gulf Stream. Less attention has been devoted to studying submesoscale flows in the open ocean, far from long-term, mean geostrophic fronts, characteristic of a large proportion of the global ocean. This study presents a year-long, submesoscale-resolving time series of near-surface buoyancy gradients, potential vorticity, and instability characteristics, collected by ocean gliders, that provides insight into open-ocean submesoscale dynamics over a full annual cycle. The gliders continuously sampled a 225 km2 region in the subtropical northeast Atlantic, measuring temperature, salinity, and pressure along 292 short (~20 km) hydrographic sections. Glider observations show a seasonal cycle in near-surface stratification. Throughout the fall (September–November), the mixed layer deepens, predominantly through gravitational instability, indicating that surface cooling dominates submesoscale restratification processes. During winter (December–March), mixed layer depths are more variable, and estimates of the balanced Richardson number, which measures the relative importance of lateral and vertical buoyancy gradients, depict conditions favorable to symmetric instability. The importance of mixed layer instabilities on the restratification of the mixed layer, as compared with surface heating and cooling, shows that submesoscale processes can reverse the sign of an equivalent heat flux up to 25% of the time during winter. These results demonstrate that the open-ocean mixed layer hosts various forced and unforced instabilities, which become more prevalent during winter, and emphasize that accurate parameterizations of submesoscale processes are needed throughout the ocean.

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P. N. Vinayachandran, Adrian J. Matthews, K. Vijay Kumar, Alejandra Sanchez-Franks, V. Thushara, Jenson George, V. Vijith, Benjamin G. M. Webber, Bastien Y. Queste, Rajdeep Roy, Amit Sarkar, Dariusz B. Baranowski, G. S. Bhat, Nicholas P. Klingaman, Simon C. Peatman, C. Parida, Karen J. Heywood, Robert Hall, Brian King, Elizabeth C. Kent, Anoop A. Nayak, C. P. Neema, P. Amol, A. Lotliker, A. Kankonkar, D. G. Gracias, S. Vernekar, A. C. D’Souza, G. Valluvan, Shrikant M. Pargaonkar, K. Dinesh, Jack Giddings, and Manoj Joshi

Abstract

The Bay of Bengal (BoB) plays a fundamental role in controlling the weather systems that make up the South Asian summer monsoon system. In particular, the southern BoB has cooler sea surface temperatures (SST) that influence ocean–atmosphere interaction and impact the monsoon. Compared to the southeastern BoB, the southwestern BoB is cooler, more saline, receives much less rain, and is influenced by the summer monsoon current (SMC). To examine the impact of these features on the monsoon, the BoB Boundary Layer Experiment (BoBBLE) was jointly undertaken by India and the United Kingdom during June–July 2016. Physical and biogeochemical observations were made using a conductivity–temperature–depth (CTD) profiler, five ocean gliders, an Oceanscience Underway CTD (uCTD), a vertical microstructure profiler (VMP), two acoustic Doppler current profilers (ADCPs), Argo floats, drifting buoys, meteorological sensors, and upper-air radiosonde balloons. The observations were made along a zonal section at 8°N between 85.3° and 89°E with a 10-day time series at 8°N, 89°E. This paper presents the new observed features of the southern BoB from the BoBBLE field program, supported by satellite data. Key results from the BoBBLE field campaign show the Sri Lanka dome and the SMC in different stages of their seasonal evolution and two freshening events during which salinity decreased in the upper layer, leading to the formation of thick barrier layers. BoBBLE observations were taken during a suppressed phase of the intraseasonal oscillation; they captured in detail the warming of the ocean mixed layer and the preconditioning of the atmosphere to convection.

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