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Impacts of wind stress on the Antarctic Circumpolar Current fronts and associated subduction


Downes, SM and Budnick, AS and Sarmiento, JL and Farneti, R, Impacts of wind stress on the Antarctic Circumpolar Current fronts and associated subduction, Geophysical Research Letters, 38, (11) Article L11605. ISSN 0094-8276 (2011) [Refereed Article]


Copyright Statement

Copyright 2011 American Geophysical Union

DOI: doi:10.1029/2011GL047668


Recent studies suggest that the overturning circulation in the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) region shows a weak sensitivity to overlying wind stress changes, due to balancing of changes in the eddy-induced and Eulerian mean transports. Using an eddy-permitting coupled climate model, we analyze the response of the ACC transport, and associated water mass subduction rates, in response to an idealized poleward shift and intensification of the westerlies. As in previous studies, we find a small increase in the net ACC transport, and a poleward shift in the mean position of the ACC flow. However, the ACC is restructured, with the Subantarctic Front (SAF) and Polar Front (PF) branches shifting poleward by between 0.9 and 2.5 of latitude, resulting in a weaker ACC flow in both the SAF and PF zones. The wind stress anomaly drives a stronger northward Ekman transport of cool surface waters, deepening the winter mixed layer and causing a 12.7 Sv increase in the subduction of Subantarctic Mode Water (SAMW) north of the SAF zone and a 6.5 Sv increase in the subduction of Antarctic Intermediate Water (AAIW) within the SAF and PF zones. Our results suggest that changes in the wind stress restructure the Southern Ocean large-scale circulation, including the flow of the ACC in its primary jets, and that this affects the formation rates of SAMW and AAIW in this complex region.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Antarctic Circumpolar Current fronts
Research Division:Earth Sciences
Research Group:Oceanography
Research Field:Physical oceanography
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Management of Antarctic and Southern Ocean environments
Objective Field:Antarctic and Southern Ocean oceanic processes
UTAS Author:Downes, SM (Dr Stephanie Downes)
ID Code:103124
Year Published:2011
Web of Science® Times Cited:53
Deposited By:CRC-Antarctic Climate & Ecosystems
Deposited On:2015-09-22
Last Modified:2017-11-01
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