Circulation and Water Mass Modification in the Brazil–Malvinas Confluence

L Jullion, KJ Heywood, AC Naveira Garabato, DP Stevens

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Abstract

The confluence between the Brazil Current and the Malvinas Current [the Brazil–Malvinas Confluence (BMC)] in the Argentine Basin is characterized by a complicated thermohaline structure favoring the exchanges of mass, heat, and salt between the subtropical gyre and the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC). Analysis of thermohaline properties of hydrographic sections in the BMC reveals strong interactions between the ACC and subtropical fronts. In the Subantarctic Front, Subantarctic Mode Water (SAMW), Antarctic Intermediate Water (AAIW), and Circumpolar Deep Water (CDW) warm (become saltier) by 0.4° (0.08), 0.3° (0.02), and 0.6°C (0.1), respectively. In the subtropical gyre, AAIW and North Atlantic Deep Water have cooled (freshened) by 0.4° (0.07) and 0.7°C (0.11), respectively. To quantify those ACC–subtropical gyre interactions, a box inverse model surrounding the confluence is built. The model diagnoses a subduction of 16 ± 4 Sv (1 Sv = 106 m3 s-1) of newly formed SAMW and AAIW under the subtropical gyre corresponding to about half of the total subduction rate of the South Atlantic found in previous studies. Cross-frontal heat (0.06 PW) and salt (2.4 × 1012 kg s-1) gains by the ACC in the BMC contribute to the meridional poleward heat and salt fluxes across the ACC. These estimates correspond to perhaps half of the total cross-ACC poleward heat flux. The authors’ results highlight the BMC as a key region in the subtropical–ACC exchanges.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)845-864
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Physical Oceanography
Volume40
Early online date13 May 2010
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2010

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