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Subregional characterization of mesoscale eddies across the Brazil-Malvinas Confluence

AuthorsMason, Evan CSIC ORCID; Pascual, Ananda CSIC ORCID; Gaube, Peter; Ruiz, Simón CSIC ORCID; Pelegrí, Josep Lluís CSIC ORCID ; Delepoulle, A.
Issue DateApr-2017
PublisherAmerican Geophysical Union
CitationJournal of Geophysical Research: Oceans 122(4): 3329-3357 (2017 )
AbstractHorizontal and vertical motions associated with coherent mesoscale structures, including eddies and meanders, are responsible for significant global transports of many properties, including heat and mass. Mesoscale vertical fluxes also influence upper ocean biological productivity by mediating the supply of nutrients into the euphotic layer, with potential impacts on the global carbon cycle. The Brazil-Malvinas Confluence (BMC) is a western boundary current region in the South Atlantic with intense mesoscale activity. This region has an active role in the genesis and transformation of water masses and thus is a critical component of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation. The collision between the Malvinas and Brazil Currents over the Patagonian shelf/slope creates an energetic front that translates offshore to form a vigorous eddy field. Recent improvements in gridded altimetric sea level anomaly fields allow us to track BMC mesoscale eddies with high spatial and temporal resolutions using an automated eddy tracker. We characterize the eddies across fourteen 5° × 5° subregions. Eddy-centric composites of tracers and geostrophic currents diagnosed from a global reanalysis of surface and in situ data reveal substantial subregional heterogeneity. The in situ data are also used to compute the evolving quasi-geostrophic vertical velocity (QG-ω) associated with each instantaneous eddy instance. The QG-ω eddy composites have the expected dipole patterns of alternating upwelling/downwelling, however, the magnitude and sign of azimuthally averaged vertical velocity varies among subregions. Maximum eddy values are found near fronts and sharp topographic gradients. In comparison with regional eddy composites, subregional composites provide refined information about mesoscale eddy heterogeneity
Description29 pages, 15 figures, 1 table, supporting information
Publisher version (URL)
Identifiersdoi: 10.1002/2016JC012611
issn: 2169-9291
e-issn: 2169-9291
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