Transformation of deep water masses along Lagrangian upwelling pathways in the Southern Ocean

TitleTransformation of deep water masses along Lagrangian upwelling pathways in the Southern Ocean
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsTamsitt V., Abernathey R.P, Mazloff M.R, Wang J., Talley L.D
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
Date Published2018/03

Upwelling of northern deep waters in the Southern Ocean is fundamentally important for the closure of the global meridional overturning circulation and delivers carbon and nutrient‐rich deep waters to the sea surface. We quantify water mass transformation along upwelling pathways originating in the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific and ending at the surface of the Southern Ocean using Lagrangian trajectories in an eddy‐permitting ocean state estimate. Recent related work shows that upwelling in the interior below about 400 m depth is localized at hot spots associated with major topographic features in the path of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, while upwelling through the surface layer is more broadly distributed. In the ocean interior upwelling is largely isopycnal; Atlantic and to a lesser extent Indian Deep Waters cool and freshen while Pacific deep waters are more stable, leading to a homogenization of water mass properties. As upwelling water approaches the mixed layer, there is net strong transformation toward lighter densities due to mixing of freshwater, but there is a divergence in the density distribution as Upper Circumpolar Deep Water tends become lighter and dense Lower Circumpolar Deep Water tends to become denser. The spatial distribution of transformation shows more rapid transformation at eddy hot spots associated with major topography where density gradients are enhanced; however, the majority of cumulative density change along trajectories is achieved by background mixing. We compare the Lagrangian analysis to diagnosed Eulerian water mass transformation to attribute the mechanisms leading to the observed transformation.

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