Export of Weddell Sea Deep and Bottom Water

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Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans
Journal Date: 
May 15
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An extensive set of conductivity-temperature-depth (CTD)/lowered acoustic Doppler current profiler (LADCP) data obtained within the northwestern Weddell Sea in August 1997 characterizes the dense water outflow from the Weddell Sea and overflow into the Scotia Sea. Along the outer rim of the Weddell Gyre, there is a stream of relatively low salinity, high oxygen Weddell Sea Deep Water (defined as water between 0 degrees and -0.7 degreesC), constituting a more ventilated form of this water mass than that found farther within the gyre. Its enhanced ventilation is due to injection of relatively low salinity shelf water found near the northern extreme of Antarctic Peninsula's Weddell Sea shelf, shelf water too buoyant to descend to the deep-sea floor. The more ventilated form of Weddell Sea Deep Water flows northward along the eastern side of the South Orkney Plateau, passing into the Scotia Sea rather than continuing along an eastward path in the northern Weddell Sea. Weddell Sea Bottom Water also exhibits two forms: a low-salinity, better oxygenated component confined to the outer rim of the Weddell Gyre, and a more saline, less oxygenated component observed farther into the gyre. The more saline Weddell Sea Bottom Water is derived from the southwestern Weddell Sea, where high-salinity shelf water is abundant. The less saline Weddell Sea Bottom Water, like the more ventilated Weddell Sea Deep Water, is derived from lower-salinity shelf water at a point farther north along the Antarctic Peninsula. Transports of Weddell Sea Deep and Bottom Water masses crossing 44 degreesW estimated from one LADCP survey are 25 x 10(6) and 5 x 10(6) m(3) s(-1), respectively. The low-salinity, better ventilated forms of Weddell Sea Deep and Bottom Water flowing along the outer rim of the Weddell Gyre have the position and depth range that would lead to overflow of the topographic confines of the Weddell Basin, whereas the more saline forms may be forced to recirculate within the Weddell Gyre.


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