07 Feb 2023
 | 07 Feb 2023
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Consistent picture of the horizontal circulation of the Atlantic Ocean over three decades

Verónica Caínzos, M. Dolores Pérez-Hernández, Daniel Santana-Toscano, Cristina Arumí-Planas, and Alonso Hernández-Guerra

Abstract. The circulation in the Atlantic Ocean is marked by the complex system of pathways of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC). These currents change meridionally due to the interaction with nearby water masses. Hydrographic data provide the opportunity to characterize these currents for the whole water column with high-resolution data over the last thirty years. Moreover, inverse methods enable the quantification of absolute zonal transports across these sections, determining the strength of each current at a certain latitude in terms of mass, heat and freshwater, as well as their transport-weighted temperature and salinity. Generally, no changes can be found among decades for each of the currents in terms of transport or their properties. In the South Atlantic, the circulation describes the subtropical gyre affected by several recirculations. There are nearly 61 Sv entering from the Southern and Indian Oceans at 45° S. The South Atlantic subtropical gyre exports northward 17.0 ± 1.2 Sv and around 1 PW via the North Brazil Current and −55 Sv southward at 45° S into the Antarctic Circumpolar Current. In the north Atlantic, most of the transport is advected northward via the western boundary currents, which reduce in strength as they take part in convection processes in the subpolar North Atlantic, reflected also in the northward progress of mass and heat transport. Deep layers carry waters southward along the western boundary, maintaining similar values of mass and heat transport until the separation into an eastern branch crossing the mid-Atlantic ridge in the south Atlantic. Abyssal waters originating in the Southern Ocean distribute along the South Atlantic mainly through its western subbasin, flowing northward up to 24.5° N, subjected to an increasing trend in their temperature with time.

Verónica Caínzos et al.

Status: open (until 04 Apr 2023)

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Verónica Caínzos et al.

Verónica Caínzos et al.


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Short summary
The pathways of the Atlantic Circulation form a complex system of currents that change meridionally due to interactions with nearby water masses. Over the last thirty years, hydrographic data have allowed us to characterise these upper, deep and abyssal currents for the entire water column using high-resolution data, computing their mass, heat and freshwater transports. Generally, we have found no changes among decades for each current in terms of transport or properties.