Water-mass distributions in the western South Atlantic; A section from South Georgia Island (54S) northward across the equator
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A long CTD/hydrographic section with closely spaced stations was made in February-April 1989 in the western Atlantic Ocean between 0-degrees-40’N and South Georgia (54S) along a nominal longitude of 25W. Vertical sections of various properties from CTD and discrete water-sample measurements are presented and discussed in terms of the large-scale circulation of the South Atlantic Ocean. One of the most important results is the identification of various deep-reaching fronts in relation to the large-scale circulation and the distribution of mode waters. Five major fronts are clearly defined in the thermal and salinity fields. These are the Polar (49.5S), Subantarctic (45S), Subtropical (41-42S), Brazil Current (35S) Fronts, and an additional front at 20-22S. The first three are associated with strong baroclinic shear. The Brazil Current Front is a boundary between the denser and lighter types of the Subantarctic Mode Water (SAMW), and the 20-22S front marks the boundary between the anticyclonic subtropical and cyclonic subequatorial gyres. The latter front coincides with the northern terminus of the high-oxygen tongue of the Antarctic Intermediate Water (AAIW) and also with the abrupt shift in density of the high-silica tongue originating in the Upper Circumpolar Water and extending northward. Two pycnostads with temperatures 20-24-degrees-C are observed between 10S and 25S with the denser one in the subtropical and the other lighter one in the subequatorial gyre. A weak thermostad centered at 4-degrees-C occurs in the AAIW between the Subtropical Front and the Subantarctic Front and shows characteristics similar to the densest variety of the SAMW. Another significant result is a detailed description of the complex structure of the deep and bottom waters. The North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW) north of 25S contains two vertical maxima of oxygen (at 2000 m and 3700 m near the equator) separated by intervening low-oxygen water with more influence from the Circumpolar Water. Each maximum is associated with a maximum of salinity and minima of nutrients. The deeper salinity maximum is only weakly defined and is limited to north of 18S, appearing more as vertically uniform salinity. South of 25S the NADW shows only a single maximum of salinity, a single maximum of oxygen, and a single minimum of each nutrient, all lying close together. The salinity maximum south of 25S and the deeper oxygen/salinity maximum north of 1 IS are derived from the same source waters. The less dense NADW containing the shallower extrema of characteristics turns to the east at lower latitudes and does not reach the region south of 25S. The southward spreading of the NADW is interrupted by domains of intensified circumpolar characteristics. This structure is closely related to the basin-scale gyre circulation pattern. The Weddell Sea Deep Water is the densest water we observed and forms a relatively homogeneous layer at the bottom of the Georgia and Argentine Basins. The bottom layer of the Brazil Basin is occupied by the vertically and laterally homogeneous Lower Circumpolar Water.