Water mass modification at the Agulhas retroflection: chlorofluoromethane studies

Rana A. Fine, Mark J. Warner, Ray F. Weiss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

39 Scopus citations

Abstract

Chlorofluoromethane (CFM) and hydrographic data from the 1983 Agulhas Retroflection cruise are used to show the importance of the region in ventilating thermocline and Intermediate Waters of the southwest Indian ocean gyre. Generally South Atlantic waters are more recently ventilated by at least two years than those of the South Indian Ocean, probably because the latter are farther downstream from the source regions near the South Atlantic subantarctic sector. A two-component mixing model shows that the outflow from the Agulhas Retroflection (14-4°C) was composed of South Indian water and at least 23% South Atlantic water. However, at the density of Indian sector Subantarctic Mode Water the inflow into the Agulhas Retroflection was well preserved in the outflow, and the South Atlantic and Indian waters appear to be ventilated by different water masses. In addition, strong interleaving was found throughout the survey area (between 14 and 4°C), characterized by correlations of negative salinity anomalies with high CFM concentrations. At the density of Antarctic Intermediate Water (AAIW) there was interleaving of both low salinity water and higher salinity Red Sea Water. Using estimates of past atmospheric ratios of two CFMs, we calculate that AAIW within the retroflection was 50-75% diluted by mixing with CFM-free water since leaving the source region. Results from the two-component mixing model, which show substantial contributions of South Atlantic water in the outflow, suggest that the return flow for the 10 Sv leakage of Indian Ocean water via the Agulhas Current into the South Atlantic [Gordon (1985) Science, 227, 1030-1033; Gordon et al. (1987) Deep-Sea Research, 34, 565-600] is occurring at thermocline and intermediate depths. A combination of active mixing in this region and similarity in the ventilation processes may be the reason that the South Atlantic and Indian thermoclines are coincident in temperature and salinity space (between 15 and 7°C) as noted by Gordon.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)311-332
Number of pages22
JournalDeep Sea Research Part A, Oceanographic Research Papers
Volume35
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)

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