An optimal XBT-based monitoring system for the South Atlantic meridional overturning circulation at 34°S

Marlos Goes, Gustavo Goni, Shenfu Dong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


The South Atlantic is an important pathway for the interbasin exchanges of heat and freshwater with strong influence on the global meridional overturning stability and variability. Along the 34°S parallel, a quarterly, high-resolution XBT transect (AX18) samples the temperature structure in the upper ocean. The AX18 transect has been shown to be a useful component of a meridional overturning monitoring system of the region. However, a feasible, cost-effective design for an XBT-based system has not yet been developed. Here we use a high-resolution ocean assimilation product to simulate an XBT-based observational system across the South Atlantic. The sensitivity of the meridional heat transport, meridional overturning circulation, and geostrophic velocities to key observational and methodological assumptions is studied. Key assumptions taken into account are horizontal and temporal sampling of the transect, salinity, and deep temperature inference, as well as the level of reference for geostrophic velocities. With the current sampling strategy, the largest errors in the meridional overturning and heat transport estimations are the reference (barotropic) velocity and the western boundary resolution. We show how altimetry can be used along with hydrography to resolve the barotropic component of the flow. We use the results obtained by the state estimation under observational assumptions to make recommendations for potential improvements in the AX18 transect implementation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)161-181
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2015


  • meridional overturning circulation
  • optimal design
  • South Atlantic
  • XBT transect

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Oceanography


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