Zonal variations in the Southern Ocean heat budget

TitleZonal variations in the Southern Ocean heat budget
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsTamsitt V, Talley LD, Mazloff MR, Cerovečki I
JournalJournal of Climate
Date Published2016/08
KeywordsGeographic location/entity,Southern Ocean,Circulation/ Dynamics,Ekman pumping/transport,Meridional overturning circulation,Ocean dynamics,Atm/Ocean Structure/ Phenomena,Atmosphere-ocean interaction,Physical Meteorology and Climatology,Heat budgets/fluxe

The spatial structure of the upper ocean heat budget in the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) is investigated using the ⅙°, data-assimilating Southern Ocean State Estimate (SOSE) for 2005–10. The ACC circumpolar integrated budget shows that 0.27 PW of ocean heat gain from the atmosphere and 0.38 PW heat gain from divergence of geostrophic heat transport are balanced by −0.58 PW cooling by divergence of Ekman heat transport and −0.09 PW divergence of vertical heat transport. However, this circumpolar integrated balance obscures important zonal variations in the heat budget. The air–sea heat flux shows a zonally asymmetric pattern of ocean heat gain in the Indian and Atlantic sectors and ocean heat loss in the Pacific sector of the ACC. In the Atlantic and Indian sectors of the ACC, the surface ocean heat gain is primarily balanced by divergence of equatorward Ekman heat transport that cools the upper ocean. In the Pacific sector, surface ocean heat loss and cooling due to divergence of Ekman heat transport are balanced by warming due to divergence of geostrophic heat advection, which is similar to the dominant heat balance in the subtropical Agulhas Return Current. The divergence of horizontal and vertical eddy advection of heat is important for warming the upper ocean close to major topographic features, while the divergence of mean vertical heat advection is a weak cooling term. The results herein show that topographic steering and zonal asymmetry in air–sea exchange lead to substantial zonal asymmetries in the heat budget, which is important for understanding the upper cell of the overturning circulation.

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