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Keywords:

  • South Georgia;
  • SACCF;
  • fluxes;
  • water masses;
  • SST

[1] In December 2000 we conducted high-resolution hydrographic and towed undulator transects across the South Georgia shelf and into the deep waters of the Georgia Basin. The Southern Antarctic Circumpolar Current Front (SACCF) was observed flowing northwestward close to the base of the slope at 53.7°S, with a second manifestation around 53.4°S having flow in the reverse direction. Both crossings had a significant barotropic component aligned with the flow. The region of the SACCF was characterized by large-scale undulations of properties on horizontal scales of 5–10 km, similar to the local internal Rossby radius. We observe a distinct surface temperature gradient associated with the SACCF in the vicinity of South Georgia and demonstrate the usefulness of this by tracing the course of the front around the island with advanced very high resolution radiometer data. A distinct northward deflection of the front to the north of South Georgia is probably due to topographic steering by the North Georgia Rise. The signature of the SACCF is pronounced in the Circumpolar Deep Water, with strong isopycnal interleaving indicative of cross-frontal mixing. The salinity of the Weddell Sea Deep Water is marginally higher between the two manifestations of the SACCF, reflecting the different pathways from its source regions in the Weddell Sea. Remarkably strong vertical gradients of potential temperature and salinity exist in the bottom 100 m of the water column (at depths of around 3500 m) because of the vertical juxtaposition of waters that have taken different routes around the Northeast Georgia Rise.