The impact of meanders, deepening and broadening, and seasonality on agulhas current temperature variability

K. McMonigal, Lisa M. Beal, Shane Elipot, Kathryn L. Gunn, Juliet Hermes, Tamaryn Morris, Adam Houk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


For the first time, the temperature transport of the Agulhas Current is quantified in a time series. Over a 25-month mooring deployment at 348S, seven tall moorings were instrumented to measure current velocity, temperature, and salinity. Current- and pressure-recording inverted echosounders were used to extend geostrophic velocity, temperature, and salinity records to 300 km offshore. In the mean, the current transports 3.8PWof heat southward relative to 08C:276 Sv (1 Sv[106m3 s21) at a transport-weighted temperature of 12.38C. A0.9-PW standard deviation in temperature transport is due to variability in both volume transport and the temperature field. Meandering of the current core dominates variability in the temperature field by warming temperatures offshore and cooling temperatures near the coast. However, meandering has a limited impact on the temperature transport, which varies more closely with a deepening and broadening of the current associated with an inshore isotherm shoaling and an offshore isotherm deepening. Stronger southward temperature transports correspond to a deeper current transporting more volume, yet at a cooler transport-weighted temperature. Seasonality is not observed in the temperature transport time series, possibly because of the offsetting effects of cooler temperatures during times of seasonally stronger volume transports. Although volume transport and temperature transport are highly correlated, the large variability in transport-weighted temperature means that using volume transport alone to infer temperature transport results in an error that could be as large as 24% of the southern Indian Ocean heat transport.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3529-3544
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Physical Oceanography
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2020


  • Boundary currents
  • Boundary currents
  • Indian Ocean
  • Mass fluxes/transport
  • Mass fluxes/transport

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography


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