The Dynamical Subtropical Front
2013 (English)In: Journal of Geophysical Research - Oceans and Atmospheres, ISSN 0148-022A, Vol. 118, no 10, 5676-5685 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
The Southern Ocean Subtropical Front (STF) is thought to play a key role in the global climate system. Theory suggests that the latitude of the STF regulates the volume of saline Agulhas Leakage into the Atlantic Ocean from the Indian. Here we use satellite sea surface temperature (SST) and sea surface height (SSH) data to study the physical characteristics of the STF water mass boundary. We find that the strong currents in this region do not align with the surface water mass boundary. Therefore, we provide a new climatology for these currents which we define as the Dynamical STF (DSTF). The DSTF is the eastward extension of the western boundary current in each basin and is characterized by strong SST and SSH gradients and no seasonal cycle. At the center of each basin it merges with the Sub-Antarctic Front. On the eastern side of basins, the STF surface water mass boundary coincides with a separate region of multiple SST fronts. We call this the Subtropical Frontal Zone (STFZ). The fronts in the STFZ have a large seasonal cycle and no SSH signature. Despite lying close to the same water mass boundary, the DSTF and STFZ are completely unrelated. We therefore suggest the term STF only be used when referring to the surface water mass boundary. When studying the strong currents on the western side of basins the term DSTF is more relevant and, similarly, the term STFZ better describes the region of enhanced SST gradients towards the east.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. Vol. 118, no 10, 5676-5685 p.
ubtropical front, Agulhas Leakage, Southern Ocean, wind stress curl, sea surface temperature, sea surface height
Oceanography, Hydrology, Water Resources
Research subject Marine Geology
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-97487DOI: 10.1002/jgrc.20408ISI: 000327380100058OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-97487DiVA: diva2:678423
AuthorCount: 2;2013-12-122013-12-122014-11-03Bibliographically approved