What Forces the Variability of the Southwestern Atlantic Boundary Currents

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Deep-Sea Research Part I-Oceanographic Research Papers
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A marked variability in the location of the front originating at the confluence of the Brazil and Malvinas Currents has been observed from both surface and subsurface observations. Modeling experiments using climatological winds predict a seasonal variability on the latitude of separation of the Brazil Current from the coast. During the Confluence Program (November 1988-February 1990) and from data collected with an array of inverted echo sounders, the location of the confluence front and its variability was established. In this paper, the observed oceanic variability is analyzed simultaneously with the wind product from the European Center for Medium Weather Forecast (ECMWF) obtained for the period of the observations. The ECMWF data is validated against in situ indirect wind magnitude observations obtained from a sub-array of the Confluence deployments. The large-scale anomalies are explored through the comparison with the climatological winds field obtained from HELLERMAN and ROSENSTEIN (1983), Journal of Physical Oceanography, 13, 1093-1104. From the analysis it is concluded that the main source of variability of the Confluence front is the local wind forcing. There is a variability in the location of the front due to the seasonal cycle of the winds in the South Atlantic. In addition to this seasonal variability, the latitude of separation of the Brazil Current from the coast presents a marked interannual variability that is forced from anomalous wind patterns south of the Confluence. There is no apparent correlation between wind-forced pulses in the Antarctic Circumpolar Current and the observed anomalous northward penetration of the Malvinas Current.


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