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Matthias Lankhorst
and
Walter Zenk

Abstract

The circulation of the northeastern Atlantic Ocean at intermediate depths is characterized by watermass transformation processes that involve Iceland–Scotland Overflow Water (ISOW) from the northeast, Labrador Sea Water (LSW) from the west, and Mediterranean Water from the south. Field observations were carried out with 89 eddy-resolving floats (RAFOS and MARVOR types). The data coverage achieved is remarkably high and enables a comprehensive study of the eastern basins between Iceland and the Azores. The trajectories show typical pathways of the water masses involved and the role that the complex bottom topography plays in defining them. The ISOW paths tend to lean against the slopes of the Reykjanes Ridge and Rockall Plateau. Westward escapes through multiple gaps in the ridge are possible, superimposed on a sustained southward flow in the eastern basin along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. LSW pathways leading to the eastern basins are subject to high variability in flow direction and eddy activity. In addition to a selection of characteristic trajectories, maps of the horizontal distributions of Lagrangian eddy kinetic energy and integral time scales are presented. These reveal distinct areas of intensified mixing in the Iceland Basin, as well as the sharp contrast between the subpolar and subtropical dynamics. A self-contained eddy detection scheme is applied to obtain statistics on individual eddy properties and their abundance. It is suggested that much of the intensified mixing can be related to cyclonic activity, particularly in the subpolar region.

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Laurence Armi
and
Walter Zenk

Abstract

Isolated compact anticyclonic eddies or salt lenses were found in the Canary Basin. Hydrographic surveys of three such lenses show large anomalies of salinity and temperature (∼0.8, 2.5°C). They are centered at ∼1100 m, have a vertical extent of up to 900 m and radii of ∼50 km. Current meter records indicate anticyclonic velocities up to 29 cm s−1. Fine structure with vertical scales of ∼20 m and less, possibly due to intrusive decay, appears at the outer edges of the lenses whereas the centers are free of such structure. The probability of finding a salt lens at any station in the Canary Basin is fairly high (∼0.08).

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Rolf H. Käse
and
Walter Zenk

Abstract

The existence of energetic anticyclonic mid-depth vortices of Mediterranean Water (meddies) questions the validity of a conventional advective–diffusive balance in the eastern Atlantic subtropical gyre. A mesoscale experiment in the Azores–Madeira region reveals a link of these meddies to large-scale subsurface meanders. For the first time it is shown that meddies may have strong surface vorticity, indicative of a generation process involving the Azores Current—a deep reaching near-surface jet.

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Kevin G. Speer
and
Walter Zenk

Abstract

The total transport of Antarctic Bottom Water across the Rio Grande Rise, including the western boundary, the Vema Channel, and the Hunter Channel is estimated from hydrographic measurements across these pathways. The contribution of the Vema Channel is greatest at 3.9 × 106 m3 s−1, which is very close to earlier estimates. The western boundary current contribution is 2.0 × 106 m3 s−1 and that of the Hunter Channel 0.7 × 106 m3 s−1. The lower values outside the Vema Channel are offset by the important source of mass they form to the lower density classes of bottom water. About 40% of the flow is concentrated in the highest density class representing the source of Weddell Sea Deep Water to the Brazil Basin. The flow structure is characterized by horizontal and vertical recirculation.

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Thomas Rossby
,
Gerold Siedler
, and
Walter Zenk

Widespread and sustained in situ ocean measurements are essential to an improved understanding of the state of the ocean and its role in global change. Merchant marine vessels can play a major role in ocean monitoring, yet apart from routine weather observations and upper-ocean temperature measurements, they constitute a vastly underutilized resource due to lack of suitable instrumentation. Examples of ways in which vessels can assist include profiling techniques of physical properties, chemical sampling via automated water samplers, optical techniques to measure various biological parameters, and ground truth measurements for remote sensing from orbiting and geostationary satellites. Further, ships can act as relays between subsurface instrumentation and satellite communication services.

To take advantage of the opportunities that the maritime industry can provide, two steps must be taken. The first is to initiate an instrumentation development program with emphasis on techniques optimized for highly automated use onboard ships at 15–20-kt speeds. The second is to forge partnerships or links between academic and government laboratories and the maritime industry for the institution and maintenance of such monitoring programs. No doubt significant resources will be required, but in the long run the improved ability to monitor the state of ocean in situ will make the effort more than worthwhile.

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Nelson G. Hogg
,
Gerold Siedler
, and
Walter Zenk

Abstract

As a contribution to the WOCE Deep Basin Experiment, an array of current meters with individual record lengths exceeding 1½ years was set across the southern boundary of the Brazil Basin between early 1991 and early 1996. The array spanned the Santos Plateau, the Vema Channel, and the Hunter Channel, all areas believed to be important for transport of Antarctic Bottom Water between the Argentine and Brazil Basins. From the combination of geostrophic velocities computed from hydrographic stations and those directly measured, the total transport of bottom water (potential temperature below 2°C) is estimated to be about 6.9 Sv (Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1) northward, with about 4 Sv coming through the Vema Channel and the remainder through the Hunter Channel.

Properties of the eddy field are also discussed. Eddy energy levels and their spatial distribution are similar to comparable regimes in the North Atlantic. Integral timescales vary from a few days to several weeks with distance from the Brazil Current and the western boundary. The eddy heat flux is in the same direction as the heat advection by the mean flow but considerably smaller.

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Gerold Siedler
,
Anni Kuhl
, and
Walter Zenk

Abstract

Quasi-homogeneous layers in vertical profiles of temperature and salinity in the eastern North Atlantic near Madeira indicate the existence of a subtropical Mode Water in the Eastern Basin. Temperature sections show a maximum horizontal extent of at least 500 km. The frequency distribution analysis of homogeneous layers in a historical XBT dataset shows a Mode Water formation region near and to the north of Madeira. This Mode Water is found at increasing depths and displaced to the west and southwest during the course of the year after its formation by wintertime convection. It disappears almost completely, due to mixing, before the next winter. Volume estimates suggest that this Madeira Mode Water in the eastern Atlantic accounts for 15–20% of the total Central Water formation in the corresponding density range as obtained from tracer studies in the North Atlantic gyre.

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Claudia Schmid
,
Gerold Siedler
, and
Walter Zenk

Abstract

The circulation of the low-salinity Antarctic Intermediate Water in the South Atlantic and the associated dynamical processes are studied, using recent and historical hydrographic profiles, Lagrangian and Eulerian current measurements as well as wind stress observations. The circulation pattern inferred for the Antarctic Intermediate Water supports the hypothesis of an anticyclonic basinwide recirculation of the intermediate water in the subtropics. The eastward current of the intermediate anticyclone is fed mainly by water recirculated in the Brazil Current and by the Malvinas Current. An additional source region is the Polar Frontal zone of the South Atlantic. The transport in the meandering eastward current ranges from 6 to 26 Sv (Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1). The transport of the comparably uniform westward flow of the gyre varies between 10 and 30 Sv. Both transports vary with longitude. At the western boundary near 28°S, in the Santos Bifurcation, the westward current splits into two branches. About three-quarters of the 19 Sv at 40°W go south as an intermediate western boundary current. The remaining quarter flows northward along the western boundary. Simulations with a simple model of the ventilated thermocline reveal that the wind-driven subtropical gyre has a vertical extent of over 1200 m. The transports derived from the simulations suggest that about 90% of the transport in the westward branch of the intermediate gyre and about 50% of the transport in the eastward branch can be attributed to the wind-driven circulation. The structure of the simulated gyre deviates from observations to some extent. The discrepancies between the simulations and the observations are most likely caused by the interoceanic exchange south of Africa, the dynamics of the boundary currents, the nonlinearity, and the seasonal variability of the wind field. A simulation with an inflow/outflow condition for the eastern boundary reduces the transport deviations in the eastward current to about 20%. The results support the hypothesis that the wind field is of major importance for the subtropical circulation of Antarctic Intermediate Water followed by the interoceanic exchange. The simulations suggest that the westward transport in the subtropical gyre undergoes seasonal variations. The transports and the structure of the intermediate subtropical gyre from the Parallel Ocean Climate Model (Semtner–Chervin model) agree better with observations.

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Holger König
,
Kathy L. Schultz Tokos
, and
Walter Zenk

Abstract

A low-cost underwater sound recorder has been developed and tested. It is designed to receive signals from sound sources that serve as navigation aids for RAFOS floats. This moored version of the RAFOS float (MAFOS) can monitor sound sources over many months and several hundred kilometers. It thus improves RAFOS navigation accuracy by enabling corrections for potential long-term clock drifts of the sound sources. MAFOS can also provide information on the local variation in the speed of sound due to natural hydrographic variability. In a first test, this usefulness has been proven and a warm, salty inhomogenity that traveled through a sound-source mooring array in the Iberian Basin has been observed.

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Olaf Boebel
,
Kathy L. Schultz Tokos
, and
Walter Zenk

Abstract

A method to derive salinity data from RAFOS float temperature and pressure measurements is described. It is based on evaluating the float's in situ density from its mechanical properties and in situ pressure and temperature data. The salinity of the surrounding water may then be determined, assuming that the float has reached equilibrium with its environment. This method, in comparison with the possible use of floatborne salinity cells, has the advantage of being both cost and energy neutral and highly stable in the long term.

The effect on the estimated salinity of various parameters used in the determination of the float's in situ density is discussed. Results of seven RAFOS Boats deployed in the Brazil Basin are compared with corresponding CTD data to estimate the magnitude of these errors. At present, an accuracy of 0.3 psu is achieved. The accuracy may be improved to 0.02 psu by referring the float's calculated density to a reference density established by a CTD cast at the time of launch. Results from five floats deployed in the heterogeneous water masses of the Iberian Basin are compared with the corresponding CM casts to demonstrate the variability and interpretation of p-T-S float datasets from different areas.

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