Isopycnal displacements within the Cape Basin thermocline as revealed by the Hydrographic Data Archive

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Deep-Sea Research Part I-Oceanographic Research Papers
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The transfer of upper kilometer water from the Indian Ocean into the South Atlantic, the Agulhas leakage, is believed to be accomplished primarily through meso-scale eddy processes. There have been various studies investigating eddies of the "Cape Basin Cauldron" from specific data sets. The hydrographic data archive acquired during the last century within the Cape Basin region of the South Atlantic provides additional insight into the distribution and water mass properties of the Cape Basin eddies. Eddies are identified by mid-thermocline isopycnal depth anomalies relative to the long-term mean. Positive depth anomalies (the reference isopycnal is deeper than the long-term mean isopycnal depth) mark the presence of anticyclonic eddies; negative anomalies mark cyclonic eddies. Numerous eddies are identified in the whole region; the larger isopycnal displacements are attributed to the energetic eddies characteristic of the Cape Basin and indicate that there is a 2:1 anticyclone/cyclone ratio. Smaller displacements of the less energetic features are almost equally split between anticyclones and cyclones (1.4:1 ratio). Potential temperature, salinity and oxygen relationships at thermocline and intermediate levels within each eddy reveal their likely origin. The eddy core water is not solely drawn from Indian Ocean: tropical and subtropical South Atlantic water are also present. Anticyclones and cyclones carrying Agulhas Water properties are identified throughout the Cape Basin. Anticyclones with Agulhas Water characteristics show a predominant northwest dispersal, whereas the cyclones are identified mainly along the western margin of the African continent, possibly related to their origin as shear eddies at the boundary between the Agulhas axis and Africa. Cyclones and anticyclones carrying pure South Atlantic origin water are identified south of 30 degrees S and west of the Walvis Ridge. Tropical Atlantic water at depth is found for cyclones north of the Walvis Ridge, west of 10 degrees E and for stations deeper than 4000 m, and a few anticyclones with the same characteristics are found south of the ridge. (c) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


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DOI 10.1016/j.dsr.2006.05.011