Tracking the Antarctic water flows that feed the Benguela Current


  • Colin Schultz


As the initiator of the northbound branch of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), the Benguela Current is a key component in the large-scale circulation system that transports energy, salt, and biogeochemical tracers around the Atlantic basin. Water flowing in the Benguela Current derives from several sources, but the bulk originates as Antarctic Intermediate Water (AAIW). The relatively fresh AAIW is formed when northbound water from the Antarctic Circumpolar Current sinks below warmer northern waters. AAIW's depth and salinity varies depending on where it is formed. AAIW from both the Atlantic and Indian oceans feeds the Benguela Current, so knowing its properties and pathways is important for understanding AMOC. After performing a particle-tracking analysis in a high-resolution regional ocean circulation model, Rimaud et al. calculated how AAIW of the Indian and Atlantic oceans evolve into the Benguela Current.