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Free Content South Atlantic overturning circulation at 24°S

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To estimate the size of the meridional overturning circulation and the meridional heat and freshwater transports in the South Atlantic, we made a new transatlantic hydrographic section along 24°S in 2009 and we compare the resulting transports with those estimated for a historical section made in 1983. For the two sections, the overturning is estimated to be 21.5 Sv (2009) or 16.5 Sv (1983), the heat transport is northward at 0.7 PW (2009) or 0.4 PW (1983), and the freshwater transport is small but northward at 0.04 Sv (2009) or 0.17 Sv (1983). The differences in transports are primarily due to the different strengths of the southward Brazil Current transport during the occupation of the sections, 4.9 Sv (2009) or 12.3 Sv (1983). The freshwater transport associated with the meridional overturning circulation is estimated by two different methods for each of the two sections and is always southward ranging from –0.09 Sv to –0.34 Sv which means that the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation transports freshwater southward at 24°S. On the basis of theoretical studies, such southward freshwater transport at the southern boundary of the Atlantic Ocean means that the present Atlantic circulation has multiple equilibrium states, and that the one it occupies at present may be unstable to a sufficiently large freshwater event.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2011

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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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