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Baroclinic control of Southern Ocean eddy upwelling near topography
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  • Alice Barthel,
  • Andrew McC. Hogg,
  • Stephanie Waterman,
  • Shane Richard Keating
Alice Barthel
Los Alamos National Laboratory

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Andrew McC. Hogg
Australian National University
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Stephanie Waterman
University of British Columbia
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Shane Richard Keating
University of New South Wales
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In the Southern Ocean, mesoscale eddies contribute to the upwelling of deep waters along sloping isopycnals, helping to close the upper branch of the meridional overturning circulation. Eddy energy is not uniformly distributed along the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC). Instead, ‘hotspots’ of eddy energy that are associated with enhanced eddy-induced upwelling exist downstream of topographic features. This study shows that, in idealized eddy-resolved simulations, a topographic feature in the ACC path can enhance and localize eddy-induced upwelling. However, the upwelling systematically occurs in regions where eddies grow through baroclinic instability, rather than in regions where eddy energy is large. Across a range of parameters, along-stream eddy growth rate is a more reliable indicator of eddy upwelling than traditional parameterizations such as eddy kinetic energy, eddy potential energy or isopycnal slope. Ocean eddy parameterizations should consider metrics specific to the growth of baroclinic instability to accurately model eddy upwelling near topography.
16 Apr 2022Published in Geophysical Research Letters volume 49 issue 7. 10.1029/2021GL097491