On the temporal variability of the Weddell Sea Deep Water masses

Kerr, Rodrigo; Mata, Mauricio Magalhães; Garcia, Carlos Alberto Eiras


The Weddell Sea is one of the key regions of the Southern Ocean with respect to climate as most of the Antarctic Bottom Water (AABW) that occupies the world ocean deepest layers is likely to originate from this region. This study applies the Optimum Multiparameter water mass analysis to the Weddell deep waters in order to investigate their distribution and variability. The dataset used is based on the WOCE repeat sections in the area (SR04 and A12) from 1984 to 1998. The mean water mass distribution is consistent with previous knowledge of the region, along with high interannual variability. Regarding the temporal variability, it seems that the years of maximum Weddell Sea Deep Water (WSDW) contribution correspond to the lowest levels of Weddell Sea Bottom Water (WSBW), and vice versa. In order to identify possible forcing mechanisms for such variability, the water mass temporal anomalies were compared with oceanic and atmospheric modes of variability in that region such as the Southern Annular Mode (SAM). An apparent correlation between the SAM index temporal gradients and WSBW anomalies indicate that the Weddell Sea export of dense waters to the world ocean may be linked to that index on several time scales.

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