Water mass pathways to the North Atlantic oxygen minimum zone

TitleWater mass pathways to the North Atlantic oxygen minimum zone
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsPena-Izquierdo J., van Sebille E., Pelegri J.L, Sprintall J, Mason E., Llanillo P.J, Machin F.
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research-Oceans
Date Published2015/05
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number2169-9275
Accession NumberWOS:000356628100012
Keywordsatlantic; cape-verde; circulation; current system; eastern; equatorial undercurrent jets; Lagrangian pathways; model; ocean; optimum multiparameter analysis; Oxygen minimum zone; subtropical cell; subtropical cells; Thermocline circulation; tropical; tropical atlantic; variability; water masses

The water mass pathways to the North Atlantic Oxygen Minimum Zone (naOMZ) are traditionally sketched within the cyclonic tropical circulation via the poleward branching from the eastward flowing jets that lie south of 10 degrees N. However, our water mass analysis of historic hydrographic observations together with numerical Lagrangian experiments consistently reveal that the potential density level of sigma=26.8 kg m(-3) (sigma 26.8, approximately 300 m depth) separates two distinct regimes of circulation within the Central Water (CW) stratum of the naOMZ. In the upper CW (above sigma 26.8), and in agreement with previous studies, the supply of water mainly comes from the south with a predominant contribution of South Atlantic CW. In the lower CW (below sigma 26.8), where minimal oxygen content is found, the tropical pathway is instead drastically weakened in favor of a subtropical pathway. More than two thirds of the total water supply to this lower layer takes place north of 10 degrees N, mainly via an eastward flow at 14 degrees N and northern recirculations from the northern subtropical gyre. The existence of these northern jets explains the greater contribution of North Atlantic CW observed in the lower CW, making up to 50% of the water mass at the naOMZ core. The equatorward transfer of mass from the well-ventilated northern subtropical gyre emerges as an essential part of the ventilation of the naOMZ.

Short TitleJ Geophys Res-Oceans
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