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The observed spatiotemporal variability of Antarctic Winter Water
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  • Theo Spira,
  • Sebastiaan Swart,
  • Isabelle S. Giddy,
  • Marcel du Plessis
Theo Spira
Department of Marine Sciences, University of Gothenburg

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Sebastiaan Swart
Department of Marine Sciences, University of Gothenburg, Department of Oceanography, University of Cape Town
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Isabelle S. Giddy
Department of Marine Sciences, University of Gothenburg
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Marcel du Plessis
Department of Marine Sciences, University of Gothenburg
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Abstract

The Southern Ocean is central to the global overturning circulation. South of the Antarctic Polar Front, Antarctic Winter Water (WW) forms in the wintertime mixed layer below sea ice and becomes a subsurface layer following summertime restratification of the mixed layer, overlaying upwelled deep waters. Model simulations show that WW acts as a conduit to seasonally transform upwelled deep waters into intermediate waters. Yet, there remains little observational evidence of the distribution and seasonal characteristics of WW. Using 18 years of in situ observations, we show seasonal climatologies of WW thickness, depth, core temperature and salinity. This study reveals, for the first time, the distinct regionality and seasonality of WW. The seasonal cycle of WW characteristics is tied to the annual sea ice evolution, whilst the spatial distribution is impacted by the main topographic features in the Southern Ocean driving an equatorward flux of WW. Through the identification of these localized northward export regions of WW, this study provides further evidence suggesting an alternative view from the conventional ‘zonal mean’ perspective of the overturning circulation. We show that specific overturning pathways connecting the subpolar ocean to the global ocean can be explained by ocean-topography interactions.
07 Mar 2024Submitted to ESS Open Archive
08 Mar 2024Published in ESS Open Archive