The deep waters from the Southern Ocean at the entry to the Argentine Basin

Michel Arhan, Karen J. Heywood, Brian A. King

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Hydrographic data from the World Ocean Circulation Experiment (WOCE) and South Atlantic Ventilation Experiment (SAVE) in the region of transition between the Scotia Sea and the Argentine Basin are examined to determine the composition of the deep water from the Southern Ocean that enters the Atlantic, and to describe the pathways of its constituents. The deep current that flows westward against the Falkland Escarpment is formed of several superposed velocity cores that convey waters of different origins: Lower Circumpolar Deep Water (LCDW), Southeast Pacific Deep Water (SPDW), and Weddell Sea Deep Water (WSDW). Different routes followed by the WSDW upstream of, and through, the Georgia Basin, lead to distinctions between the Lower-WSDW (σ4 > 46.09) and the Upper-WSDW (46.04 < σ4 < 46.09). The Lower-WSDW flows along the South Sandwich Trench, then cyclonically in the main trough of the Georgia Basin. Although a fraction escapes northward to the Argentine Basin, a comparison of the WOCE data with those from previous programmes shows that this component had disappeared from the southwestern Argentine Basin in 1993/1994. This corroborates previous results using SAVE and pre-SAVE data. A part of the Upper-WSDW, recognizable from different 0-S characteristics, flows through the Scotia Sea, then in the Georgia Basin along the southern front of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current. Northward leakage at this front is expected to feed the Argentine Basin through the northern Georgia Basin. The SPDW is originally found to the south of the Polar Front (PF) in Drake Passage. The northward veering of this front allows this water to cross the North Scotia Ridge at Shag Rocks Passage. It proceeds northward to the Argentine Basin around the Maurice Ewing Bank. The LCDW at the Falkland Escarpment is itself subdivided in two cores, of which only the denser one eventually underrides the North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW) in the Atlantic Ocean. This fraction is from the poleward side of the PF in Drake Passage. It also crosses the North Scotia Ridge at Shag Rocks Passage, then flows over the Falkland Plateau into the Atlantic. The lighter variety, from the northern side of the PF, is thought to cross the North Scotia Ridge at a passage around 55°W. It enters the Argentine Basin in the density range of the NADW.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)475-499
Number of pages25
JournalDeep-Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1999

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