A zonal pathway for NADW in the South Atlantic

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Journal of Oceanography
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Several large deployments of neutrally buoyant floats took place within the Antarctic Intermediate (AAIW), North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW), and the Antarctic Bottom Water (AABW) of the South Atlantic in the 1990s and a number of hydrographic sections were occupied as well. Here we use the spatially and temporally averaged velocities measured by these floats, combined with the hydrographic section data and various estimates of regional current transports from moored current meter arrays, to determine the circulation of the three major subthermocline water masses in a zonal strip across the South Atlantic between the latitudes of 19 degrees S and 30 degrees S. We concentrate on this region because the historical literature suggests that it is where the Deep Western Boundary Current containing NADW bifurcates. In support of this notion, we rind that a net of about 5 Sv. of the 15-20 Sv that crosses 19 degrees S does continue zonally eastward at least as far as the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Once across the ridge it takes a circuit to the north along the ridge flanks before returning to the south in the eastern half of the Angola Basin. The data suggest that the NADW then continues on into the Indian Ocean. This scheme is discussed in the context of distributions of dissolved oxygen, silicate and salinity. In spite of the many float-years of data that were collected in the region a surprising result is that their impact on the computed solutions is quite modest. Although the focus is on the NADW we also discuss the circulation for the AAIW and AABW layers.


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