Eighteen Degree Water formation within the Gulf Stream during CLIMODE Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Analysis of wintertime CLIMODE data for 2007 indicates that a substantial portion of new Eighteen Degree Water (EDW) is likely ventilated within the eastward flowing Gulf Stream (GS) between 67 degrees W and 52 degrees W longitudes, possibly exceeding that formed elsewhere in the northern Sargasso Sea. Use of some global air-sea interaction data sets applied to the study region for Feb/Mar of 2007 indicate that this winter may have been anomalously energetic in air-sea exchange compared to the mean of the prior 19 yr. The largest heat and freshwater fluxes found directly over the meandering warm core of the Gulf Stream are capable of removing most of the subtropical heat anomaly of the GS, but cross-frontal fluxes of salinity are required to account for the observed regional salinity structure. An isopycnal diffusivity of similar to 100 m(2) s(-1) is inferred from the salinity balance. This mixing would also account for the observation that EDW formed in the GS is slightly fresher than that formed in northern Sargasso Sea. The lateral flux of heat across the GS north wall also acts to cool the resulting EDW water, but the heat balance for EDW production is largely determined from GS advection and air-sea fluxes, in contrast to salinity. Based on oxygen saturation data, we estimate that 1.8-3.0 Sv-yr of new EDW is formed in the GS for the winter of 2007. EDW originating from the GS is generated in a separate location from where it is accumulated in the northern Sargasso Sea. This manner of EDW formation will produce unique characteristics of EDW found in the northern Sargasso Sea: ones that differ in T/S properties from that formed south of the GS under the more traditional 1D, cooling-driven convection process. (c) 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

publication date

  • July 2013