The South Atlantic Current

View More View Less
  • 1 Institut füMeereskunde an der Universitat Kiel, Kiel, Federal Republic of Germany
© Get Permissions
Full access

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.

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.

Save