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Directly measured mid-depth circulation in the northeastern North Atlantic Ocean

Directly measured mid-depth circulation in the northeastern North Atlantic Ocean
Directly measured mid-depth circulation in the northeastern North Atlantic Ocean
The circulation of water masses in the northeastern North Atlantic Ocean has a strong influence on global climate owing to the northward transport of warm subtropical water to high latitudes. But the ocean circulation at depths below the reach of satellite observations is difficult to measure, and only recently have comprehensive, direct observations of whole ocean basins been possible. Here we present quantitative maps of the absolute velocities at two levels in the northeastern North Atlantic as obtained from acoustically tracked floats. We find that most of the mean flow transported northward by the Gulf Stream system at the thermocline level (about 600 m depth) remains within the subpolar region, and only relatively little enters the Rockall trough or the Nordic seas. Contrary to previous work, our data indicate that warm, saline water from the Mediterranean Sea reaches the high latitudes through a combination of narrow slope currents and mixing processes. At both depths under investigation, currents cross the Mid-Atlantic Ridge preferentially over deep gaps in the ridge, demonstrating that sea-floor topography can constrain even upper-ocean circulation patterns.
ATLN, OCEAN CIRCULATION, GULF STREAM, TEMPERATURE, WOCE
0028-0836
603-607
Bower, A.S.
1e467d35-0d62-466a-abfc-c802d1e5d637
Le Cann, B.
da62b631-ffa1-4164-9cd9-6fd4a032221b
Rossby, T.
cb5485fc-015d-4a0b-b022-8fff1071be1a
Zenk, W.
e7e04e7a-41d3-4030-8a1b-dbbb1b2f8aea
Gould, J.
cc78ab8c-2258-4d84-97ea-6c7c1a64db48
Speer, K.
c483feb6-3141-4724-816c-09568b580cf7
Richardson, P.L.
99ea5fd0-31c2-41b2-89b1-b30a972b7a8f
Prater, M.D.
74dfadfe-1b9f-4063-9c91-dd1c41b21df3
Zhang, H-M.
f69ae373-dc3b-4ecb-a6aa-489a39d93608
Bower, A.S.
1e467d35-0d62-466a-abfc-c802d1e5d637
Le Cann, B.
da62b631-ffa1-4164-9cd9-6fd4a032221b
Rossby, T.
cb5485fc-015d-4a0b-b022-8fff1071be1a
Zenk, W.
e7e04e7a-41d3-4030-8a1b-dbbb1b2f8aea
Gould, J.
cc78ab8c-2258-4d84-97ea-6c7c1a64db48
Speer, K.
c483feb6-3141-4724-816c-09568b580cf7
Richardson, P.L.
99ea5fd0-31c2-41b2-89b1-b30a972b7a8f
Prater, M.D.
74dfadfe-1b9f-4063-9c91-dd1c41b21df3
Zhang, H-M.
f69ae373-dc3b-4ecb-a6aa-489a39d93608

Bower, A.S., Le Cann, B., Rossby, T., Zenk, W., Gould, J., Speer, K., Richardson, P.L., Prater, M.D. and Zhang, H-M. (2002) Directly measured mid-depth circulation in the northeastern North Atlantic Ocean. Nature, 419 (6907), 603-607. (doi:10.1038/nature01078).

Record type: Article

Abstract

The circulation of water masses in the northeastern North Atlantic Ocean has a strong influence on global climate owing to the northward transport of warm subtropical water to high latitudes. But the ocean circulation at depths below the reach of satellite observations is difficult to measure, and only recently have comprehensive, direct observations of whole ocean basins been possible. Here we present quantitative maps of the absolute velocities at two levels in the northeastern North Atlantic as obtained from acoustically tracked floats. We find that most of the mean flow transported northward by the Gulf Stream system at the thermocline level (about 600 m depth) remains within the subpolar region, and only relatively little enters the Rockall trough or the Nordic seas. Contrary to previous work, our data indicate that warm, saline water from the Mediterranean Sea reaches the high latitudes through a combination of narrow slope currents and mixing processes. At both depths under investigation, currents cross the Mid-Atlantic Ridge preferentially over deep gaps in the ridge, demonstrating that sea-floor topography can constrain even upper-ocean circulation patterns.

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Published date: 2002
Keywords: ATLN, OCEAN CIRCULATION, GULF STREAM, TEMPERATURE, WOCE

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 6034
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/6034
ISSN: 0028-0836
PURE UUID: 78923d4a-e743-44e4-b705-e0c5635a1e3a

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Date deposited: 09 Jun 2004
Last modified: 15 Jul 2019 19:38

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Contributors

Author: A.S. Bower
Author: B. Le Cann
Author: T. Rossby
Author: W. Zenk
Author: J. Gould
Author: K. Speer
Author: P.L. Richardson
Author: M.D. Prater
Author: H-M. Zhang

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