Ventilation processes and water mass ages in the thermocline of the southeast Indian Ocean
Article first published online: 7 DEC 2012
Copyright 1997 by the American Geophysical Union.
Geophysical Research Letters
Volume 24, Issue 22, pages 2777–2780, 15 November 1997
How to Cite
- Issue published online: 7 DEC 2012
- Article first published online: 7 DEC 2012
- Manuscript Accepted: 22 SEP 1997
- Manuscript Received: 29 JAN 1997
Indian Central Water (ICW) and Subantarctic Mode Water (SAMW) are the two major sources for the ventilation of the permanent thermocline in the Indian Ocean. ICW is formed by subduction in the region of negative wind stress curl, while SAMW is formed by convective overturning at the Subantarctic Front. SAMW contributes to the depth range of ICW, but is not easily identified, because most hydrographic properties (temperature, salinity and nutrients) of SAMW do not differ much from those of ICW. This study identifies ICW and SAMW in a zonal section near 32°S and evaluates the relative importance of convection vs. subduction for the ventilation process. Oxygen and nutrient data from the eastern part (50–114°E) of WOCE section 15 are used with temperature and salinity to determine water mass fractions of subducted ICW and of SAMW from water mass mixing analysis. The individual age fields of the two water mass components are then derived from a combination of the fractions obtained with a linear oxygen/CFC mixing model. Unlike earlier studies, which derive an uncalibrated apparent age, our results express water mass age in true units of time (years). The core of the SAMW near 114°E is about 5 years old, while the core of the subducted ICW (at 60–80°E) shows an increase of age with depth, in agreement with the subduction process. ICW moves eastward with the South Indian Current, reaching an age of 35 years at 114°E. SAMW spreads westward against the mean flow through turbulent diffusion, reaching an age of 25 years at 50°E.