Interocean exchange of water masses


  • Kristofer Döös


A new method for calculating water mass transport between different ocean basins from the velocity fields obtained by numerical models is presented. The method is applied to the velocity field of the Southern Ocean simulated by a primitive equation model (fine resolution Antarctic model). With this method it is possible to judge whether a water mass has been ventilated or not, to estimate how many times it has circled around Antarctica, and to calculate the time it has spent in the Southern Ocean. Calculations have also been undertaken revealing to what extent the changes of temperature, salinity, and density have been caused by mixing and by ventilation. Two major ways to redistribute the water through the Southern Ocean are identified. The first one redistributes 53% of the water and involves an un ventilated direct exchange between the oceans, the second one redistributes 33% by going around Antarctica. It is found that, on average, the water mass makes six circuits before the water is ventilated and subsequently driven to the north by the Ekman transport. A heat transport study is carried out for the Atlantic, showing that the northward heat transport into the Atlantic comes 85% from the Indian Ocean and the rest from the Drake Passage.