Hydrodynamics of the choke point between Cape Town and Antarctica during the austral summer of 2019.

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Date: Jan. 2021
Publisher: Elsevier B.V.
Document Type: Report
Length: 497 words

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Keywords Southern ocean; Hydrological fronts; Water mass; Heat content; Baroclinic transport Highlights * Analysis of hydrographic features is addressed using data from XCTDs profiles collected from a cargo ship in the data-sparse chokepoint between Africa and Antarctica. * We establish a linkage between water masses, hydrological fonts and their role in modulation of volume transport which leads to changes in the heat/salt content. * Hydrological fronts from XCTD are compared with surface manifestations of satellite-based sea surface temperature and dynamic topography data. * The results are extensively compared with literature to suggest possible reasons for agreement and disagreements.. Abstract This study addresses the hydrodynamics inferred from the expendable conductivity-temperature-depth (XCTD) observations carried out in the southwestern Indian Ocean sector of the Southern Ocean along two transects: the Lazarev Sea to Cape Town (track-1) and Cape Town to Prydz bay (track-2) during the austral summer of 2019. The vertical temperature and salinity structures revealed an eddy extending up to 44°S (45°S) on track-1 (track-2). South of the eddy, we encountered frontal zones extending to 53°S (59°S) on track-1(track-2). The frontal locations identified from XCTD and satellite-based sea surface temperature and absolute dynamic topography coincided, with the latter placed within the latitudinal limits identified from the XCTD data. Meandering of the Polar front (PF), the southern Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) Front, and the Southern Boundary of the ACC was observed from 90 to 550 km southward. The Winter Water which was confined to the south of 50°S was detected at deeper depth (~350 m) on track-1, compared to a depth of 100 m on track-2, and its thickness varied from zero to 1.2 m on track-1 and from 0.5 to 2.5 m on track-2. The vertical thermohaline structure revealed the northward subduction of a mixture of Antarctic Surface Water and Subantarctic Surface Water up to 45.5°S and down to 500 (320) m on track-1 (track-2). The volume transport (relative to 1000 m) accounted for 87% of that estimated in the literature (90 [plus or minus] 2.4 Sv) and 34.7 Sv across track-1 and -2, respectively. It was found that 70% of the volume transport was confined to the ACC frontal region and 26% of the total transport occurred in the 100--500 m slab. The cumulative heat and salt content was 2% and 1.2% higher between 39° and 66°S, compared to that estimated from 2008 data along track-1. We used a satellite-based absolute dynamic topography field, to trace out Agulhas current (AC) and its retroflection current, and eddies detached from the meanders. A higher dynamic topography gradient across the polar front facilitates enhanced transport. Sea surface temperature fields revealed that the meanders in the AC propagate southwest with an offshore extent of 30--300 km. Author Affiliation: National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research, Ministry of Earth Sciences, Headland Sada, Goa, 403804, India * Corresponding author. Article History: Received 8 February 2020; Revised 25 September 2020; Accepted 23 October 2020 Byline: Alvarinho J. Luis [alvluis@ncpor.res.in] (*), Kiledar S. Tomar, Ashutosh Prasad

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A648410968