The anatomy of the Antarctic polar front in the Drake Passage

Joyce, Terrence M., Zenk, Walter and Toole, John M. (1978) The anatomy of the Antarctic polar front in the Drake Passage Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 83 (C12). pp. 6093-6113. DOI 10.1029/JC083iC12p06093.

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An intensive three-dimensional survey of the Antarctic Polar Front was made in the Drake Passage in March 1976. The front, which was imbedded within one of the high-velocity cores of the circumpolar current, is viewed as a water mass boundary demarking the northern extent of near-surface antarctic waters. Within the front, water masses are observed to intrude, one above the other, with characteristic vertical scales of 50–100 m. The intrusions are horizontally anisotropic, being elongated in the alongstream direction and constrained primarily to the upper 800 m of the front. The spatial and temporal persistence of the variability is examined through the analysis of continuous vertical profiles of horizontal velocity, temperature, salinity, and oxygen with discrete sampling of nutrients. Analysis of the velocity data showed the mean current flowing to the NNE with speeds of the order of 30–40 cm s−1 in the upper 600 m, with temporal variability over a 28-hour ‘yo-yo’ due primarily to internal gravity waves. The thermohaline variability was not internal wave induced but rather was associated with nearly isentropic advection of different water masses across the front. Cold fresh and warm salty intrusions did not conserve potential density, however, and double-diffusive transfers are strongly suggested as being crucial to an understanding of the dynamics of the intrusions. Applying a model (Joyce, 1977) for lateral mixing we estimate poleward temperature and salinity fluxes due to interleaving of 0.086°C cm s−1 and 0.069‰ cm s−1, respectively. If these values are typical, interleaving could play a significant role in large-scale balance of salt and, to a lesser extent, heat for the Southern Ocean.

Document Type: Article
Research affiliation: OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB1 Ocean Circulation and Climate Dynamics > FB1-PO Physical Oceanography
Refereed: Yes
DOI etc.: 10.1029/JC083iC12p06093
ISSN: 2169-9275
Date Deposited: 13 May 2016 07:20
Last Modified: 02 Mar 2018 09:03

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