The importance of interocean exchange south of Africa in a numerical model


  • Simon R. Thompson,

  • David P. Stevens,

  • Kristofer Döös


A fine resolution numerical model of the Southern Ocean (the Fine Resolution Antarctic Model (FRAM)) has been used to investigate the way in which heat is supplied to the South Atlantic. The heat budget in the model is compared with other estimates and is found to be broadly realistic. The temperature structure in the Atlantic, and therefore the meridional heat transport, depend heavily on the input of heat from the Indian Ocean via the Agulhas Retroflection region. FRAM is compared with three models which do not exhibit a significant input of heat from the Indian Ocean. These models also have a lower equatorward heat transport in the South Atlantic. Horizontal resolution affects the amount of Agulhas transfer with coarser resolution leading to lower heat transport in the Atlantic, a result which has implications for ocean models used in climate simulations.