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Creators/Authors contains: "Meredith, M. P."

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  1. Abstract

    A high‐resolution ocean model is used to characterize the variability of the shelf circulation and cross‐shelf transport around the South Georgia island (SG). The time‐mean shelf circulation consists of a counterclockwise flow with a net onshelf mass flow in the south and a net offshelf mass flow in the north. In the south, the cross‐shelf exchanges show a two‐layer structure with an offshelf flow below 350 m and onshelf flow above. In the north, the cross‐shelf exchanges show a three‐layer structure with the onshelf flow found only between 350 and 50 m. Correlation analysis shows that winds and the Southern Antarctic Circumpolar Current Front (SACCF) current modulate the variability of the shelf circulation and cross‐shelf transport. Local wind stress is significantly correlated with the coastal currents, mid‐shelf jet, and cross‐shelf transports in the upper layer, while the SACCF modulates the shelf and cross‐shelf transports in the southwestern shelf. Likewise, an Empirical Orthogonal Function analysis indicates that the first mode of shelf circulation variability is highly correlated with the SACCF, while the second mode is explained by the local wind stress and significantly correlated with the Antarctic Oscillation. The El Niño Southern Oscillation does not significantly contribute to the shelf circulation but is significantly correlated with the surface temperature variability. The atmospheric teleconnection drives changes in local heat flux, such that warm El Niño conditions over the equatorial Pacific are associated with a cooling of the SG waters. This superposes local signals onto temperature anomalies advected from upstream in the ACC found in previous studies.

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  2. Abstract

    The northeast periphery of the Scotia Sea hosts one of the largest chlorophyll‐a blooms of the Southern Ocean. This bloom peaks to the northwest of the island of South Georgia, extending eastward for hundreds of kilometers. Although the Southern Ocean has many islands of similar size, South Georgia is ecologically one of the most significant: It not only sustains one of the Southern Ocean's largest and most diverse ecosystems but also constitutes its single most important region for biological carbon sequestration. While the exceptional nature of South Georgia's blooms has been recognized widely, both the physical processes that contribute to their fertilization and the reasons why these blooms are larger than those of other similar regions (e.g., Kerguelen or Crozet Islands) are poorly understood. We use the results of a high‐resolution ocean model to investigate the physical processes that mediate the entrainment of deep, iron‐rich waters into the surface layers of the South Georgia region. We show that the Southern Antarctic Circumpolar Current Front, the southernmost jet of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC), pumps iron‐enriched waters from the deep ocean onto the bottom layers of South Georgia's shelf. These waters are upwelled along the northern coast of the island and are then exported into the Georgia Basin, where topographically steered circulation shields them from the dispersive effects of local currents and eddies, thus allowing the bloom development.

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  3. Abstract

    The Southern Ocean is chronically undersampled due to its remoteness, harsh environment, and sea ice cover. Ocean circulation models yield significant insight into key processes and to some extent obviate the dearth of data; however, they often underestimate surface mixed layer depth (MLD), with consequences for surface water‐column temperature, salinity, and nutrient concentration. In this study, a coupled circulation and sea ice model was implemented for the region adjacent to the West Antarctic Peninsula, a climatically sensitive region which has exhibited decadal trends towards higher ocean temperature, shorter sea ice season, and increasing glacial freshwater input, overlain by strong interannual variability. Hindcast simulations were conducted with different air‐ice drag coefficients and Langmuir circulation parameterizations to determine the impact of these factors on MLD. Including Langmuir circulation deepened the surface mixed layer, with the deepening being more pronounced in the shelf and slope regions. Optimal selection of an air‐ice drag coefficient also increased modeled MLD by similar amounts and had a larger impact in improving the reliability of the simulated MLD interannual variability. This study highlights the importance of sea ice volume and redistribution to correctly reproduce the physics of the underlying ocean, and the potential of appropriately parameterizing Langmuir circulation to help correct for biases towards shallow MLD in the Southern Ocean. The model also reproduces observed freshwater patterns in the West Antarctic Peninsula during late summer and suggests that areas of intense summertime sea ice melt can still show net annual freezing due to high sea ice formation during the winter.

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  4. Abstract

    The Weddell Gyre (WG) is one of the main oceanographic features of the Southern Ocean south of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current which plays an influential role in global ocean circulation as well as gas exchange with the atmosphere. We review the state‐of‐the art knowledge concerning the WG from an interdisciplinary perspective, uncovering critical aspects needed to understand this system's role in shaping the future evolution of oceanic heat and carbon uptake over the next decades. The main limitations in our knowledge are related to the conditions in this extreme and remote environment, where the polar night, very low air temperatures, and presence of sea ice year‐round hamper field and remotely sensed measurements. We highlight the importance of winter and under‐ice conditions in the southern WG, the role that new technology will play to overcome present‐day sampling limitations, the importance of the WG connectivity to the low‐latitude oceans and atmosphere, and the expected intensification of the WG circulation as the westerly winds intensify. Greater international cooperation is needed to define key sampling locations that can be visited by any research vessel in the region. Existing transects sampled since the 1980s along the Prime Meridian and along an East‐West section at ~62°S should be maintained with regularity to provide answers to the relevant questions. This approach will provide long‐term data to determine trends and will improve representation of processes for regional, Antarctic‐wide, and global modeling efforts—thereby enhancing predictions of the WG in global ocean circulation and climate.

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