loading page

Diffusion of Circumpolar Deep Water towards Antarctica
  • Kaihe Yamazaki,
  • Shigeru Aoki,
  • Kohei Mizobata
Kaihe Yamazaki
National Institute of Polar Research

Corresponding Author:kaiheyamazaki@gmail.com

Author Profile
Shigeru Aoki
Hokkaido University
Author Profile
Kohei Mizobata
Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology
Author Profile


Warm, salty Circumpolar Deep Water (CDW) is recognized as the primary driver for Antarctic glacial melt, but the mechanism by which it reaches the continental shelves remains highly uncertain from an observational standpoint. With the scarcity of eddy flux estimation in the Antarctic margin, we quantify the isopycnal diffusivity of CDW using hydrographic variability and satellite altimetry under the mixing length framework. For comparison, the spiciness and thickness are used as isopycnal tracers, and the two tracers yield qualitatively similar estimates. Over the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC), spatial variation of mixing length is generally aligned with the jet-induced mixing suppression theory, including its exception in the lee of the topography. In contrast, the mixing length does not depend on the mean flow in the subpolar zone, likely reflecting the relatively quiescent flow regime. The estimated isopycnal diffusivity ranges from 100 to 500 m2 s-1 south of the ACC. The eddy diffusivity tends to be enhanced where the gradient of isopycnal thickness becomes small and CDW intrudes onshore. The cross-slope eddy CDW flux is estimated, and the associated onshore heat flux across is calculated as ~3.6 TW in the eastern Indian sector. The eddy heat flux and coastal solar heating are generally balanced with cryospheric heat sinks including glacial melting and surface freezing, suggesting that the eddy advection is substantial for the onshore CDW flux. The thickness field is essential for determining mixing length and eddy fluxes in the subpolar zone, whereas the situation does not hold for the ACC domain.