The role of air-sea fluxes in Subantarctic Mode Water formation
Holte, James W.
Talley, Lynne D.
Chereskin, Teresa K.
Sloyan, Bernadette M.
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Two hydrographic surveys and a one-dimensional mixed layer model are used to assess the role of air-sea fluxes in forming deep Subantarctic Mode Water (SAMW) mixed layers in the southeast Pacific Ocean. Forty-two SAMW mixed layers deeper than 400 m were observed north of the Subantarctic Front during the 2005 winter cruise, with the deepest mixed layers reaching 550 m. The densest, coldest, and freshest mixed layers were found in the cruise's eastern sections near 77°W. The deep SAMW mixed layers were observed concurrently with surface ocean heat loss of approximately −200 W m−2. The heat, momentum, and precipitation flux fields of five flux products are used to force a one-dimensional KPP mixed layer model initialized with profiles from the 2006 summer cruise. The simulated winter mixed layers generated by all of the forcing products resemble Argo observations of SAMW; this agreement also validates the flux products. Mixing driven by buoyancy loss and wind forcing is strong enough to deepen the SAMW layers. Wind-driven mixing is central to SAMW formation, as model runs forced with buoyancy forcing alone produce shallow mixed layers. Air-sea fluxes indirectly influence winter SAMW properties by controlling how deeply the profiles mix. The stratification and heat content of the initial profiles determine the properties of the SAMW and the likelihood of deep mixing. Summer profiles from just upstream of Drake Passage have less heat stored between 100 and 600 m than upstream profiles, and so, with sufficiently strong winter forcing, form a cold, dense variety of SAMW.
Author Posting. © American Geophysical Union, 2012. This article is posted here by permission of American Geophysical Union for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Journal of Geophysical Research 117 (2012): C03040, doi:10.1029/2011JC007798.
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