Long-term temperature trends in the deep waters of the Weddell Sea

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Deep-Sea Research Part Ii-Topical Studies in Oceanography
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Warming of the deep water in the Weddell Sea has important implications for Antarctic bottom water formation, melting of pack ice, and the regional ocean-atmosphere heat transfer. In order to evaluate warming trends in the Weddell Sea, a historical data set encompassing CTD and bottle data from 1912 to 2000 was analyzed for temporal trends in the deep water masses: warm deep water (WDW) and Weddell Sea deep water (WSDW). The coldest WDW temperatures were primarily associated with the Weddell Polynya of the mid-1970s. Subsequent warming occurred at a rate of similar to0.012+/-0.007degreesCyr(-1) from the 1970s to 1990s. This warming was comparable to the global, average surface water warming observed by Levitus et al. (Science 287 (2000) 2225), to the warming of the WSBW in the central Weddell Sea observed by Fahrbach et al. (Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf Program, Report No. 12, Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Bremerhaven, Germany, 1998a, p.24), and to the surface ice temperature warming from 1970 to 1998 in the Weddell Sea observed by Comiso (J. Climate 13 (2000) 1674). The warming was not compensated by an increase in salinity, and thus the WDW became less dense. The location of the warmest temperature was displaced towards the surface by similar to200m from the 1970s to the 1990s. Although the average WSDW potential temperatures between 1500 and 3500m were warmer in the 1990s than in the 1970s, high variability in the data prevented identification of a well-defined temporal trend. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.


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Pii S0967-0645(02)00159-5