Decadal Variability of Thermocline and Intermediate Waters at 24°S in the South Atlantic

McCarthy, Gerard, McDonagh, Elaine and King, Brian (2011) Decadal Variability of Thermocline and Intermediate Waters at 24°S in the South Atlantic. Journal of Physical Oceanography, 41, (1), 157-165. (doi:10.1175/2010JPO4467.1).


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New data are presented from 24°S in the South Atlantic in an investigation of the decadal variability of the intermediate and thermocline water masses at this latitude. Variation of salinity on neutral density surfaces is investigated with three transatlantic, full-depth hydrographic sections from 1958, 1983, and 2009. The thermocline is seen to freshen by 0.05 between 1983 and 2009. The freshening is coherent, basinwide, and of a larger magnitude than any errors associated with the datasets. This freshening reverses a basinwide, coherent increase in salinity of 0.03 in the thermocline between 1958 and 1983. Changes in apparent oxygen utilization (AOU) are investigated to support the salinity changes. In the thermocline of the eastern basin, a correlated relationship exists between local AOU and salinity anomalies, which is consistent with the influence of Indian Ocean Water. This correlated relationship is utilized to estimate the magnitude of Indian Ocean influence on the salinity changes in the thermocline. Indian Ocean influence explains half of the salinity changes in the eastern thermocline from 1958 to 1983 but less of the salinity change in the eastern thermocline from 1983 to 2009. Antarctic Intermediate Water properties significantly warm from 1958 through 1983 to 2009. A significant salinification and increase in AOU is evident from 1958 to 1983. Changes in the salinity of AAIW are shown to be linked with Indian Ocean influence rather than changes in the hydrological cycle. Upper Circumpolar Deep Water is seen to be progressively more saline from 1958 through 1983 to 2009. Increased Agulhas leakage and the intensification of the hydrological cycle are conflicting influences on the salinity of thermocline and intermediate waters in the South Atlantic as the former acts to increase the salinity of these water masses and the latter acts to decrease the salinity of these water masses. The results presented here offer an interpretation of the salinity changes, which considers both of these conflicting influences.

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1175/2010JPO4467.1
ISSNs: 0022-3670 (print)
1520-0485 (electronic)
Keywords: Thermocline, Decadal variability, Intermediate waters, South Atlantic Ocean
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GC Oceanography
Divisions : University Structure - Pre August 2011 > National Oceanography Centre (NERC)
National Oceanography Centre (NERC) > Marine Physics and Ocean Climate
ePrint ID: 175877
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
Date Deposited: 28 Feb 2011 11:37
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 13:33

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