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Transport structure of the South Atlantic Ocean derived from a high-resolution numerical model and observations
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  • Xiaobiao Xu,
  • Eric P. Chassignet,
  • Shenfu Dong,
  • Molly O'Neill Baringer
Xiaobiao Xu
Florida State University

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Eric P. Chassignet
Florida State University
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Shenfu Dong
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Molly O'Neill Baringer
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The South Atlantic Ocean plays an important role in the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC), connecting it to the Indian and Pacific Oceans as part of the global overturning circulation system; yet the detailed time mean circulation structure in this region and the large-scale spatial pattern of the AMOC variability remain unclear. Using model outputs from a 60-year, eddying global ocean-sea ice simulation validated against observations at a zonal section at 34°S, a meridional section at 65°W in the Drake Passage, and a meridional section southwest of Africa, we show that the upper limb of the AMOC originates primarily from the Agulhas leakage and that, while the cold Pacific water from the Drake Passage does not contribute significantly to the AMOC, it does play a role in setting the temperature and salinity properties of the water masses in the subtropical South Atlantic. We also find that the North Atlantic deep water (NADW) in the lower limb of the AMOC flows southward as a deep western boundary current all the way to 45°S and then turns eastward to flow across the Mid-Atlantic Ridge near 42°S, and that the recirculation around the Vitoria-Trindade seamount chain brings some NADW into the Brazil Basin interior. Finally, we find that the modeled AMOC variability is coherent on interannual to decadal timescales from 35°S to about 35°N, where diapycnal water mass transformations between the upper and lower limbs of the AMOC are expected to be small.
01 Mar 2022Published in Frontiers in Marine Science volume 9. 10.3389/fmars.2022.811398