Variability of the Ross Gyre, Southern Ocean: Drivers and responses revealed by satellite altimetry

Tiago S. Dotto, Alberto Naveira Garabato, Sheldon Bacon, Michel Tsamados, Paul R. Holland, Jack Hooley, Eleanor Frajka-Williams, Andy Ridout, Michael P. Meredith

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Year-round variability in the Ross Gyre (RG), Antarctica, during 2011–2015, is derived using radar altimetry. The RG is characterized by a bounded recirculating component and a westward throughflow to the south. Two modes of variability of the sea surface height and ocean surface stress curl are revealed. The first represents a large-scale sea surface height change forced by the Antarctic Oscillation. The second represents semiannual variability in gyre area and strength, driven by fluctuations in sea level pressure associated with the Amundsen Sea Low. Variability in the throughflow is also linked to the Amundsen Sea Low. An adequate description of the oceanic circulation is achieved only when sea ice drag is accounted for in the ocean surface stress. The drivers of RG variability elucidated here have significant implications for our understanding of the oceanic forcing of Antarctic Ice Sheet melting and for the downstream propagation of its ocean freshening footprint.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6195-6204
Number of pages10
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number12
Early online date15 Jun 2018
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jun 2018

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