Interfacial Form Stress in the Southern Ocean State Estimate

Masich, J, Mazloff MR, Chereskin TK.  2018.  Interfacial Form Stress in the Southern Ocean State Estimate. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans. : Wiley-Blackwell

Date Published:



interfacial form stress, meridional overturning circulation, momentum balance, Southern Ocean, Southern Ocean state estimate, topographic form stress


Abstract The wind stress that drives the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) exits the fluid via topographic form stress (TFS) at the sea floor; interfacial form stress (IFS) is thought to carry much of this momentum from source to sink. These form stresses combine to help set the strength and structure of the Southern Ocean meridional overturning circulation (MOC), a key nexus of heat and gas exchange between the deep ocean and the atmosphere. For the first time in a general circulation model, we calculate the time?varying, three?dimensional IFS field directly from zonal pressure gradients across vertical perturbations in isopycnal layer interfaces. We confirm previous findings that IFS compensates wind stress at the surface and topographic form stress at the seafloor in the Drake Passage latitudes. We find that zonal and time?mean IFS is primarily responsible for this surface wind stress compensation, with some contribution from transient eddy IFS. Mean, standing eddy, and transient eddy IFS combine to compensate topographic form stress at depth. Both standing and transient eddy IFS concentrate at stationary meanders along the ACC, and transient eddy IFS dominates standing eddy IFS in regions of high eddy kinetic energy. Finally, total IFS changes sign from balancing eastward wind stress to balancing westward topographic form stress around 28.1 kg m?3, close to the upper limit of Antarctic Bottom Water, indicating the role of buoyancy forcing in setting the structure of the IFS field.


doi: 10.1029/2018JC013844