A GCM Study of Tropical–Subtropical Upper-Ocean Water Exchange

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  • 1 UCAR Visiting Scientist Program, Program in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey
  • 2 GFDL/NOAA, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey
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Abstract

Experiments with an oceanic general circulation model indicate that the tropical and subtropical oceanic circulations are linked in three ways. Far from coast in the oceanic interior, equatorial surface waters flow poleward to the southern part of the subtropical gyre, and then are subducted and returned in the thermocline to the upper part of the core of the Equatorial Undercurrent. There is, in addition, a surface western boundary current that carries waters from the equatorial region to the northern part of the subtropical gyre. After subduction, that water reaches the equator by means of a subsurface western boundary current and provides a substantial part (2/3 approximately) of the initial transport of the Equatorial Undercurrent. The eastward flow in the Equatorial Undercurrent is part of an intense equatorial cell in which water rises to the surface at the equator, drifts westward and poleward, then sinks near 3° latitude to flow equatorward where it rejoins the undercurrent.

Abstract

Experiments with an oceanic general circulation model indicate that the tropical and subtropical oceanic circulations are linked in three ways. Far from coast in the oceanic interior, equatorial surface waters flow poleward to the southern part of the subtropical gyre, and then are subducted and returned in the thermocline to the upper part of the core of the Equatorial Undercurrent. There is, in addition, a surface western boundary current that carries waters from the equatorial region to the northern part of the subtropical gyre. After subduction, that water reaches the equator by means of a subsurface western boundary current and provides a substantial part (2/3 approximately) of the initial transport of the Equatorial Undercurrent. The eastward flow in the Equatorial Undercurrent is part of an intense equatorial cell in which water rises to the surface at the equator, drifts westward and poleward, then sinks near 3° latitude to flow equatorward where it rejoins the undercurrent.

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