Data-based meridional overturning streamfunctions for the global ocean

Citation:
Talley, LD, Reid JL, Robbins PE.  2003.  Data-based meridional overturning streamfunctions for the global ocean. Journal of Climate. 16:3213-3226.

Date Published:

Oct

Keywords:

current, east australian, flow patterns, hydrographic section, large-scale circulation, north-atlantic ocean, pacific intermediate water, south indian-ocean, thermohaline circulation, total geostrophic circulation, world ocean

Abstract:

The meridional overturning circulation for the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans is computed from absolute geostrophic velocity estimates based on hydrographic data and from climatological Ekman transports. The Atlantic overturn includes the expected North Atlantic Deep Water formation ( including Labrador Sea Water and Nordic Sea Overflow Water), with an amplitude of about 18 Sv through most of the Atlantic and an error of the order of 3 - 5 Sv (1 Sv = 10(6) m(3) s(-1)). The Lower Circumpolar Deep Water ( Antarctic Bottom Water) flows north with about 8 Sv of upwelling and a southward return in the South Atlantic, and 6 Sv extending to and upwelling in the North Atlantic. The northward flow of 8 Sv in the upper layer in the Atlantic ( sea surface through the Antarctic Intermediate Water) is transformed to lower density in the Tropics before losing buoyancy in the Gulf Stream and North Atlantic Current. The Pacific overturning streamfunction includes 10 Sv of Lower Circumpolar Deep Water flowing north into the South Pacific to upwell and return southward as Pacific Deep Water, and a North Pacific Intermediate Water cell of 2 Sv. The northern North Pacific has no active deep water formation at the sea surface, but in this analysis there is downwelling from the Antarctic Intermediate Water into the Pacific Deep Water, with upwelling in the Tropics. For global Southern Hemisphere overturn across 30degreesS, the overturning is separated into a deep and a shallow overturning cell. In the deep cell, 22 - 27 Sv of deep water flows southward and returns northward as bottom water. In the shallow cell, 9 Sv flows southward at low density and returns northward just above the intermediate water density. In all three oceans, the Tropics appear to dominate upwelling across isopycnals, including the migration of the deepest waters upward to the thermocline in the Indian and Pacific. Estimated diffusivities associated with this tropical upwelling are the same order of magnitude in all three oceans. It is shown that vertically varying diffusivity associated with topography can produce deep downwelling in the absence of external buoyancy loss. The rate of such downwelling for the northern North Pacific is estimated as 2 Sv at most, which is smaller than the questionable downwelling derived from the velocity analysis.

Notes:

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Website

DOI:

10.1175/1520-0442(2003)016<3213:dmosft>2.0.co;2