Investigating the Global Impacts of the Agulhas Current



The Agulhas Current is the major western boundary current of the Southern Hemisphere [Lutjeharms, 2006] and a key component of the global ocean “conveyor” circulation controlling the return flow to the Atlantic Ocean [Gordon, 1986]. As such, it is increasingly recognized as a key player in ocean thermohaline circulation, with importance for the meridional overturning circulation (MOC) of the Atlantic Ocean.

Unusual dynamics pervade the motion of this warm-water current—as it moves west around the southern tip of Africa, it is retroflected back east by the Antarctic Circumpolar Current. Not all waters are captured by this sudden diversion of course—parts of the Agulhas Current leak away into the South Atlantic Ocean (Figure 1).