South Atlantic interbasin exchanges of mass, heat, salt and anthropogenic carbon

G.R. Evans, E.L. McDonagh, B.A. King, H.L. Bryden, D.C.E. Bakker, P.J. Brown, U. Schuster, K.G. Speer, S.M.A.C. van Heuven

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The exchange of mass, heat, salt and anthropogenic carbon (Cant) between the South Atlantic, south of 24°S, and adjacent ocean basins is estimated from hydrographic data obtained during 2008-2009 using an inverse method. Transports of anthropogenic carbon are calculated across the western (Drake Passage), eastern (30°E) and northern (24°S) boundaries. The freshwater overturning transport of 0.09 Sv is southward, consistent with an overturning circulation that exports freshwater from the North Atlantic, and consistent with a bistable Meridional Overturning Circulation (MOC), under conditions of excess freshwater perturbation. At 30°E, net eastward Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) transport, south of the Subtropical Front, is compensated by a 15.9±2.3 Sv westward flow along the Antarctic boundary. The region as a whole is a substantial sink for atmospheric anthropogenic carbon of 0.51±0.37 PgC yr-1, of which 0.18±0.12 PgC yr-1 accumulates and is stored within the water column. At 24°S, a 20.2 Sv meridional overturning is associated with a 0.11 PgC yr-1 Cant overturning. The remainder is transported into the Atlantic Ocean north of 24°S (0.28±0.16 PgC yr-1) and Indian sector of Southern Ocean (1.12±0.43 PgC yr-1), having been enhanced by inflow through Drake Passage (1.07±0.44 PgC yr-1). This underlines the importance of the South Atlantic as a crucial element of the anthropogenic carbon sink in the global oceans.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)62–82
Number of pages21
JournalProgress in Oceanography
Early online date19 Nov 2016
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2017

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