Atlantic transport variability at 25 degrees N in six hydrographic sections

C. P. Atkinson, H. L. Bryden, S. A. Cunningham, B. A. King

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Abstract

In January and February 2010, a sixth transatlantic hydrographic section was completed across 25° N, extending the hydrographic record at this latitude to over half a century. In combination with continuous transport measurements made since 2004 at 26.5° N by the Rapid-WATCH project, we reassess transport variability in the 25° N hydrographic record. Past studies of transport variability at this latitude have assumed transport estimates from each hydrographic section to represent annual average conditions. In this study the uncertainty in this assumption is assessed through use of Rapid-WATCH observations to quantify sub-seasonal and seasonal transport variability. Whilst in the upper-ocean no significant interannual or decadal transport variability are identified in the hydrographic record, in the deep ocean transport variability in both depth and potential temperature classes suggests some interannual or decadal variability may have occurred. This is particularly striking in the lower North Atlantic Deep Water where southward transports prior to 1998 were greater than recent transports by several Sverdrups. Whilst a cooling and freshening of Denmark Straits Overflow Water has occurred which is coincident with these transport changes, these water mass changes appear to be density compensated. Transport changes are the result of changing velocity shear in the vicinity of the Deep Western Boundary Current.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)497-523
Number of pages27
JournalOcean Science
Volume8
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jul 2012

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