University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > British Antarctic Survey - Polar Oceans seminar series > Variability and drivers of the subpolar Southern Ocean circulation from satellite altimetry

Variability and drivers of the subpolar Southern Ocean circulation from satellite altimetry

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr. Shenjie Zhou.

The subpolar Southern Ocean, south of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, hosts large circulation systems of importance for the production of water masses, ocean interactions with sea-ice and ice-shelves, and consequently for global mean sea level. Observations are still sparse in that region, particularly in wintertime when it is covered by sea ice. Thus, the regional response of the subpolar Southern Ocean hydrography and circulation to interactions with the atmosphere, cryosphere, and background circulation at various spatial and time scales is still under active research. Here, I present the development and exploitation of an ocean topography dataset from multimission satellite altimetry to investigate the variability of the subpolar Southern Ocean circulation and its drivers. This dataset spans six years of daily sea level anomaly maps over the whole Southern Ocean south of 50°S. It allows the exploration of the variability of the subpolar Southern Ocean circulation, particularly the seasonal cycle of the large-scale circulation and the mesoscale variability under sea ice. At the seasonal scale, the circulation of the Weddell and Ross gyres, and the Antarctic Slope Current are mainly dictated by three modes of variability, principally linked to the surface stress of the wind on the surface of the ocean and its modulation by the sea ice. The mesoscale variability is investigated as well using an eddy detection and tracking algorithm. This mesoscale variability is weak outside the energetic Antarctic slope current in the pack ice, while the marginal ice zone seems to be a region with enhanced cyclonic eddies generation.

This talk is part of the British Antarctic Survey - Polar Oceans seminar series series.

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