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Free Content Bottom water variability in the Samoa Passage

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The Samoa Passage (near 10S, 170W) is the channel through which the coldest, saltiest, densest bottom water approaches the North Pacific Ocean from its southern source. Over the past 25 years, three hydrographic sections have been made across the passage. A section occupied in 1968 shows little sign of modified North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW) within the northward flowing Lower Circumpolar Water (LCPW). In contrast, a section occupied in 1987 shows a strong negative curvature in -S (potential temperature-salinity) and a local maximum in salinity characteristic of NADW. A third section occupied in 1992 reveals a marginal NADW signature. The three sections are objectively mapped and very fine-scale bivariate areal -S censuses are made for a quantitative comparison of differences in water-mass structure. The strength of the NADW signature could fluctuate over a wide range of time-scales. However, these data are consistent with decadal variability, with no NADW signal in the passage in 1968, a strong signal in 1987, and a weak one in 1992. The geostrophic volume transport through the passage is 1.0 ± 0.2, 5.6 ± 1.3, and 4.8 ± 0.6 × 106 m3s−1 below a zero-velocity surface (ZVS) of  = 1.2°C for the 1968, 1987, and 1992 sections respectively. The transport estimates, made for comparison with those from velocity data presently being collected by a current meter array in the passage, are sensitive to variations in the choice of ZVS.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 1994

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  • The Journal of Marine Research, one of the oldest journals in American marine science, publishes peer-reviewed research articles covering a broad array of topics in physical, biological and chemical oceanography. Articles that deal with processes, as well as those that report significant observations, are welcome. Biological studies involving coupling between ecological and physical processes are preferred over those that report systematics. The editors strive always to serve authors and readers in the academic oceanographic community by publishing papers vital to the marine research in the long and rich tradition of the Sears Foundation for Marine Research. We welcome you to the Journal of Marine Research.
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