Seasonal variability of meridional temperature fluxes in the eastern North Atlantic Ocean
Abstract:Seasonal meridional ocean temperature fluxes were computed in a regional study of the eastern North Atlantic Ocean east of 30°30′W between 12°30′N and 39°30′N for the upper 1500 m of the ocean. Historical oceanographic and meteorological measurements are the data base for the direct method of computing temperature fluxes. Seasonal changes in temperature fluxes caused by the seasonality of Ekman transport and geostrophic transport are strongly dependent on latitude. Between 19N and 25N the meridional temperature flux shows low seasonality. In this area the permanent subtropical gyre and the stable trade-winds result in low seasonal changes. North of 25N the Ekman transport shows large seasonal variations. The latitude of the transition of southward Ekman temperature flux to northward Ekman temperature flux is located at 28N in winter. In summer it is found at 38N. The seasonal variability of the meridional temperature fluxes in the subtropics north of 25N is influenced by this annual cycle in Ekman transport, as well as by the southward displacement in summer and the northward movement of the Azores Current in winter. The tropical eastern Atlantic Ocean shows seasonal changes both in the geostrophic and Ekman transports. South of 17N the total temperature flux is always to the north. The largest meridional temperature fluxes, with more than 0.7 PW, are found in fall at 12°30′N directed northward, and in winter at 33°30′N to the south. In general the subtropical eastern North Atlantic Ocean transports heat to the south all the year round, while in the tropics heat is transported to the north. The seasonality in the eastern Atlantic Ocean is found to be different from seasonal variations in global investigations. The seasonal heat budget computations show a heat gain in the ocean in the area investigated from April to September and a heat loss from October to March. Over the whole year the eastern North Atlantic gains about 0.09 PW from the atmosphere.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: May 1, 1988
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