Local water mass modifications by a solitary meander in the Agulhas Current

Greta M. Leber, Lisa Beal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

We present full-depth hydrographic and velocity observations across a solitary meander within the Agulhas Current, and assess the degree to which the meander causes upwelling, cross-frontal mixing, and diapycnal transport. These events can input nutrients onto the continental shelf as well as advect larvae offshore. We find that the meander drives inshore upwelling with vertical velocities of at least 13 m d<sup>-1</sup>. The meander also causes diapycnal transport resulting in 1°C cooler and 0.25 fresher central waters and 1°C warmer, 0.25 saltier intermediate waters below the thermocline. We introduce a new coordinate system that separates these changes into kinematic changes due to meandering and property changes along transport streamlines. This reveals that most of the observed diapycnal transport below the thermocline is due to property changes. We find a small amount of enhanced cross-frontal mixing associated with solitary meanders of the Agulhas Current, but it is statistically insignificant. We believe this is due to the strongly barotropic nature of the meandering Agulhas Current, which maintains a deep steering level that inhibits mixing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4503-4515
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research C: Oceans
Volume120
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015

Keywords

  • Agulhas Current
  • cross-frontal mixing
  • hydrographic data
  • natal pulse
  • solitary meander
  • upwelling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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