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The Antarctic Circumpolar Wave in a global, high-resolution, coupled ice–ocean model

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The Antarctic Circumpolar Wave (ACW) is identified by White and Peterson (1996) as anomalies in sea-level pressure, meridional wind stress (MWS), sea-surface temperature (SST) and sea-ice extent (SIE) propagating eastward over the Southern Ocean. In this study, the ACW is examined using a global coupled ice–ocean model with an average horizontal grid size of 1/4°. The model is forced with 1979–93 daily average atmospheric data from the European Centre for Medium-range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) re-analysis (ERA). The sea-ice model includes both dynamics and thermodynamics, and the ocean model is a primitive-equation, free-surface, z-coordinate model. Both standing and propagating oscillations are present in ERA surface net heat-flux (NHF) and MWS anomalies. The ocean and ice respond to such atmospheric forcing with similar standing and propagating oscillations. For the propagating mode, SIE, SST and sea-surface salinity anomalies propagate eastward with a period of about 4–5 years and take about 8–9years to encircle the Antarctic continent. Thus, the simulated ACW is a wavenumber-2 phenomenon which agrees with the ACW identified by White and Peterson (1996). The correctly simulated strength of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, which governs the phase speed of oceanic anomalies, in our high-resolution model is essential for obtaining the observed wavenumber-2 ACW mode in the ocean. The ACW signature is also present in ocean temperature and salinity anomalies down to about 1000 m depth with similar eastward-propagating speed. The anomalies in the interior ocean are more coherent and intense over the Pacific and Atlantic sectors than over the Indian sector. Northward (southward) MWS anomalies, northward (southward) SIE anomalies, cold (warm) SST anomalies and saltier (fresher) than normal salinity anomalies are in phase, while less (more) than normal NHF is 90° out of phase with them, indicating the ACW in sea ice and ocean is a response to that in the atmosphere.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2001

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  • The Annals of Glaciology is a peer-reviewed, thematic journal published 2 to 4 times a year by the International Glaciological Society (IGS). Publication frequency is determined and volume/issue numbers assigned by the IGS Council on a year-to-year basis and with a lead time of 3 to 4 years. The Annals of Glaciology is included in the ISI Science Citation Index from volume 50, number 50 onwards.

    Themes can be on any aspect of the study of snow and ice. Individual members can make a suggestion for a theme for an Annals issue to the Secretary General, who will forward it to the IGS Publications Committee. The IGS Publication Committee will make a recommendation for an individual themed Annals issue, together with a potential Annals Chief Editor for that issue, to IGS Council. The IGS Council will make the decision whether to proceed, taking into account the spread of topics and the overall capacity for publication of pages in Annals.

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