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An observation of the banded structure of the Antarctic Coastal Current at the prime meridian

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Observations of three bands of westward flow and two countercurrents, spanning roughly 50 km from the ice-shelf edge in front of the Fimbul Ice Shelf (prime meridian) in Antarctica, are presented. A comparison with a numerical model and the proximity of two of these current cores to the ice shelf suggest that they split from the Antarctic Coastal Current because of the influence of sea ice on the surface drag. A comparison with previous studies suggests that the other core is the current associated with the Antarctic Slope Front. Because the Fimbul ice shelf overhangs the continental shelf, the Antarctic Coastal Current displaces offshore, getting close to the Antarctic Slope Front. The obtained structure is derived from conductivity–temperature–depth geostrophic velocities from February 2005, referenced with detided acoustic Doppler current profiler velocities.

Keywords: Antarctic Coastal Current; Antarctic Slope Front; Southern Ocean; countercurrent; current bands; sea ice

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Bussestraße 24, DE-27570 Bremerhaven, Germany

Publication date: December 1, 2010

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