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Circulation in the western South Atlantic shelf and1export to the deep adjacent ocean -30 to 40{degree sign} S
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  • Giuliana Berden,
  • Marcela Charo,
  • Osmar Möller Jr.,
  • Alberto Piola
Giuliana Berden
University of Buenos Aires

Corresponding Author:giuliberden@gmail.com

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Marcela Charo
Servicio de Hidrografia Naval
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Osmar Möller Jr.
Universidade Federal do Rio Grande
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Alberto Piola
University of Buenos Aires
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High sea surface chlorophyll concentration on the Argentine Continental Shelf (ACS) frequently extends to the deep ocean in the vicinity of the Brazil/Malvinas Confluence (BMC). The offshore transport of shelf waters likely plays a key role in the biogeochemical balance of the western South Atlantic and promotes the offshore transport of planktonic species. We analyze data from an oceanographic survey carried out in the western South Atlantic shelf between 31° and 38°S in October 2013. We describe the distribution and circulation of the water masses and focus on the exchanges with the open ocean. On-shelf subsurface intrusions of oceanic waters and river discharge supply nutrients to the shelf. A low-salinity tongue of Río de la Plata (RDP) waters extends northward to 32°S. Below these waters Subantarctic and Subtropical Shelf waters (SASW, STSW) meet to form the Subtropical Shelf Front. The main SASW branch, oversaturated in oxygen and with high-fluorescence mixes with a detachment of Brazil Current waters at 38°S and is exported offshore along the BMC. A second branch of SASW reaches 33°S mixing along its way with RDP and STSW, and returns southward after splitting into an onshore and an offshore branch. The offshore branch is exported to the open ocean through the BMC. These export routes are in overall qualitative agreement with those indicated by a high-resolution reanalysis. We estimate a net off-shelf transport (geostrophic plus Ekman) of 3.33Sv to the open ocean between 32.1° and 37.7°S. The majority of the offshore flow occurs between 34.7° and 37.7°S.