Search Results

You are looking at 1 - 4 of 4 items for

  • Author or Editor: Ray G. Peterson x
  • All content x
Clear All Modify Search
Lothar Stramma and Ray G. Peterson

Abstract

Historical data from the region between the Greenwich meridian and the African continental shelf are used to compute the offshore geostrophic transport of the Benguela Current. At 32°S, the Benguela Current is located near the African coast, transporting about 21 Sv (1 Sv = 106 m3 s−1) of surface water toward the north relative to a potential density surface lying between the upper branch of Circumpolar Deep Water and the North Atlantic Deep Watar. Two warm core eddies of probable Agulhas Current origin an observed west of the Benguela Current at 32°S. Near 30°S, the Benguela Current turns toward the northwest and begins to separate from the eastern boundary. It carries about 18 Sv of surface water across 28°S. The current then turns mainly toward the west to flow over a relatively deep segment of the Walvis Ridge south of the Valdivia Bank. A surface current with northward surface of about 10 cm s−1 flows along the western side of the Valdivia Bank, while another northward surface current flows at about 20 cm s−1 some 300 km west of the bank. About 3 Sv of surface now do not leave the Cape Basin south of the Vaidivia Bank, but instead drift northward as a wide. sluggish flow out of the northern end of the Cape Basin. Because of the more southerly seaward extensions of most of the Benguela Current, there are no deep-reaching interactions observed between this current and the cyclonic gyre in the Angola Basin east of the Greenwich meridian. Beneath the surface layer, about 4–5 Sv of Antarctic Intermediate Water are carried northward across 32° and 28°S by the Benguela Current, essentially all of which turns westward to cross the Greenwich meridian south of 24°S.

Full access
Lothar Stramma and Ray G. Peterson

Abstract

In this paper we use the historical hydrographic data base for the South Atlantic Ocean to investigate (i) the hydrographic boundary between the subtropical gyre and the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC), the Sub-tropical Front (STF), and (ii) the southern current band of the gyre, which is called the South Atlantic Current (SAC). The STF begins in the west in the Brazil-Falkland (Malvinas) confluence zone, but at locations at and west of 45°W this front is often coincident with the Brazil Current front. East of 45°W the STF appears to be a distinct feature to at least the region south of Africa, whereupon it continues into the Indian Ocean. The associated current band of increased zonal speed is the SAC, which, except for one instance, is found at or north of the surface STF until Indian Ocean water from the Agulhas retroflection is reached. A reversal of baroclinicity in the STF is observed south of a highly saline Agulhas ring, causing the SAC to separate from the STF and turn north into the Benguela Current. Zonal flow south of the STF is generally weak and serves to separate the South Atlantic and circumpolar currents. In the Argentine Basin, the SAC has a typical volume transport of 30 Sv (1 Sv = 106m3s−1) in the upper 1000 m relative to a deep potential density surface (σ4 = 45.87 kg m−3), and can be as high as 37 Sv. It is thus comparable to, or stronger than, the Brazil Current. In the Cape Basin, the transport of the SAC is reduced to about 15 SY before it turns north to feed the Benguela Current. In late 1983 this flow was joined by about 8 Sv of water from the Agulhas Current.

Full access
Lothar Stramma, Ray G. Peterson, and Matthias Tomczak

Abstract

The Southern Hemisphere Subtropical Front (STF) is a narrow zone of transition between upper-level sub-tropical waters to the north and subantarctic waters to the south. It is found near 40°S across the South Atlantic and South Indian Oceans and is associated with an eastward geostrophic current band. The current band in each basin is found at or just north of the surface front except near the eastern boundaries where most of the subtropical waters turn north into the eastern limbs of the subtropical gyres. The bands associated with the STF are thus distinct features separated from the strong zonal flows of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current farther south. The authors have referred to the current bands in the two respective oceans as the South Atlantic Current and the South Indian Ocean Current. In this paper the authors use the historical database from the South Pacific Ocean to investigate the geostrophic flow associated with the STF there. The STF extends across the southern Tasman Sea from south of Tasmania to southern New Zealand, and a weak eastward flow appears to be associated with it. The transport amounts to only about 3 Sv (1Sv &equiv 106 m3 s−1), little of Which passes south of New Zealand. Mixing within the eddy-rich Tasman Sea may account for this weakness, while also setting up another more significant front in the northern Tasman Sea, the Tasman Front. It branches off from the East Australian Current toward the north of New Zealand, along which moves a flow of about 14 Sv. After passing north of New Zealand, a portion of this current flows east to contribute to a current band near 30°S, while another portion turns south as the East Auckland Current and meets with subantarctic waters near Chatham Rise (44°S), thus reestablishing the STF.

An enhanced eastward current band is associated with the front there, one that extends across the remainder of the South Pacific and is referred to as the South Pacific Current. In comparison with its counterparts in the other basins, which typically begin by carrying 30 Sv (Atlantic) to 60 Sv (Indian) in the upper 1000 m in their western portions before weakening to 10–15 Sv in the east, the South Pacific Current is weak. Near Chatham Rise, it starts with a transport of approximately 5 Sv, and it remains near this strength as it shifts gradually north across the basin toward South America. The current appears to split into two smaller bands in the region of 115°–85°W, while near 28°S, 83°W it begins to turn more strongly north and becomes shallower and weaker. Potential vorticity distributions indicate that this current acts as an impediment toward the northward spreading of Antarctic Intermediate Water. But why the South Pacific Current east of New Zealand should be so much weaker than its counterparts in the other basins is not particularly clear. It may be due to the presence of New Zealand and other topographic barriers to deep flow east of Australia, to the axis of the subtropical gyre in the South Pacific shifting more rapidly southward with depth than those elsewhere, thus causing greater reductions in the underlying zonal velocities, and to strong poleward eddy heat and salt fluxes in the other two basins leading to smaller cross-STF gradients in the Pacific.

Full access
Warren B. White, Shyh-Chin Chen, and Ray G. Peterson

Abstract

The Antarctic circumpolar wave (ACW) is a nominal 4-yr climate signal in the ocean–atmosphere system in the Southern Ocean, propagating eastward at an average speed of 6–8 cm s−1, composed of two waves taking approximately 8 years to circle the globe. The ACW is characterized by a persistent phase relationship between warm (cool) sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies and poleward (equatorward) meridional surface wind (MSW) anomalies. Recently, White and Chen demonstrated that SST anomalies in the Southern Ocean operate to induce anomalous vortex stretching in the lower troposphere that is balanced by the anomalous meridional advection of planetary vorticity, yielding MSW anomalies as observed. In the present study, the authors seek to understand how this atmospheric response to SST anomalies produces a positive feedback to the ocean (i.e., an anomalous SST tendency displaced eastward of SST anomalies) that both maintains the ACW against dissipation and accounts for its eastward propagation. To achieve this, we couple a global equilibrium climate model for the lower troposphere to a global heat budget model for the upper ocean. In the absence of coupling, the model Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) advects SST anomalies from initial conditions to the east at speeds slower than observed, taking 12–14 years to circle the globe with amplitudes that become insignificant after 6–8 years. In the presence of coupling, eastward speeds of the model ACC are matched by those due to coupling, together yielding a model ACW of a nominal 4-yr period composed of two waves that circle the globe in approximately 8 years, as observed. Feedback from atmosphere to ocean works through the anomalous zonal surface wind response to SST anomalies, yielding poleward Ekman flow anomalies in phase with warm SST anomalies. As such, maintenance of the model ACW is achieved through a balance between anomalous meridional Ekman heat advection and anomalous sensible-plus-latent heat loss to the atmosphere. This balance requires the alignment of covarying SST and MSW anomalies to be tilted into the southwest–northeast direction, which accounts for the spiral structure observed in global SST and sea level pressure anomaly patterns around the Southern Ocean. Eastward coupling speeds of the model ACW derive from a beta effect in coupling that displaces a portion of the anomalous meridional Ekman heat advection, and its corresponding anomalous SST tendency, to the east of SST anomalies. Therefore, the ACW is an example of self-organization within the global ocean–atmosphere system, depending upon the spherical shape of the rotating earth for its propagation and the mean meridional SST gradient for its maintenance, and producing a net poleward eddy heat flux in the upper ocean that tends to reduce this mean gradient.

Full access