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The effect of the Kerguelen Plateau on the ocean circulation

TitleThe effect of the Kerguelen Plateau on the ocean circulation
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsWang J.B, Mazloff MR, Gille ST
JournalJournal of Physical Oceanography
Date Published2016/11
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number0022-3670
Accession NumberWOS:000389036600008
Keywordsagulhas; antarctic circumpolar current; channel; drake passage; form stress; indian-ocean; leakage; model; momentum balance; southern-ocean; transport

The Kerguelen Plateau is a major topographic feature in the Southern Ocean. Located in the Indian sector and spanning nearly 2000 km in the meridional direction from the polar to the subantarctic region, it deflects the eastward-flowing Antarctic Circumpolar Current and influences the physical circulation and biogeochemistry of the Southern Ocean. The Kerguelen Plateau is known to govern the local dynamics, but its impact on the large-scale ocean circulation has not been explored. By comparing global ocean numerical simulations with and without the Kerguelen Plateau, this study identifies two major Kerguelen Plateau effects: 1) The plateau supports a local pressure field that pushes the Antarctic Circumpolar Current northward. This process reduces the warm-water transport from the Indian to the Atlantic Ocean. 2) The plateau-generated pressure field shields the Weddell Gyre from the influence of the warmer subantarctic and subtropical waters. The first effect influences the strength of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current and the Agulhas leakage, both of which are important elements in the global thermohaline circulation. The second effect results in a zonally asymmetric response of the subpolar gyres to Southern Hemisphere wind forcing.

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