Collaborators: Andrew Thompson, Andrew Stewart, Shantong Sun
The Southern Ocean is arguably the central cog in the global ocean overturning circulation. In addition to connecting all the major ocean basins, the Southern Ocean facilitates the upwelling of deep, carbon-rich waters as well as the production of the dense bottom water that fills most of the abyssal ocean. While much of the deep water upwelling occurs within Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC), the production of bottom water occurs almost exclusively along the continental margins of Antarctica. In between the regions of deep water upwelling and the key sites of bottom water export lie the subpolar gyres—the most prominent of which are located in the Ross and Weddell Seas.
Though many studies have examined the subpolar gyres in isolation, we still lack a firm understanding of the mechanisms that control their circulation and stratification. Perhaps more importantly, the role of these gyres as a bridge between the Antarctic Circumpolar Current and the continental shelf is not well comprehended. As a result, we lack clear intuition for how anomalies in the northern part of the Southern Ocean may be communicated across theses gyres to the Antarctic margin.
This project aims to address these gaps in our understanding and our main approach will be to carryout a series of idealized numerical simulations that reduce these gyres to their fundamental dynamics. In doing so, we hope to develop and sharpen our mechanistic understanding of these subpolar gyres and their role in shaping the broader, regional circulation.
Publications: This is a work in progress, so stay tuned!