Seasonal variability of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation at 11° S inferred from bottom pressure measurements

Herrford, Josefine; Brandt, Peter; Kanzow, Torsten; Hummels, Rebecca; Araujo, Moacyr; Durgadoo, Jonathan V.

Bottom pressure observations on both sides of the Atlantic basin, combined with satellite measurements of sea level anomalies and wind stress data, are utilized to estimate variations of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) at 11inline-formula S. Over the period 2013–2018, the AMOC and its components are dominated by seasonal variability, with peak-to-peak amplitudes of 12 Sv for the upper-ocean geostrophic transport, 7 Sv for the Ekman and 14 Sv for the AMOC transport. The characteristics of the observed seasonal cycles of the AMOC and its components are compared to results from an ocean general circulation model, which is known to reproduce the variability of the Western Boundary Current on longer timescales. The observed seasonal variability of zonally integrated geostrophic velocity in the upper 300 m is controlled by pressure variations at the eastern boundary, while at 500 m depth contributions from the western and eastern boundaries are similar. The model tends to underestimate the seasonal pressure variability at 300 and 500 m depth, especially at the western boundary, which translates into the estimate of the upper-ocean geostrophic transport. In the model, seasonal AMOC variability at 11inline-formula S is governed, besides the Ekman transport, by the geostrophic transport variability in the eastern basin. The geostrophic contribution of the western basin to the seasonal cycle of the AMOC is instead comparably weak, as transport variability in the western basin interior related to local wind curl forcing is mainly compensated by the Western Boundary Current. Our analyses indicate that while some of the uncertainties of our estimates result from the technical aspects of the observational strategy or processes not being properly represented in the model, uncertainties in the wind forcing are particularly relevant for the resulting uncertainties of AMOC estimates at 11inline-formula S.

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Herrford, Josefine / Brandt, Peter / Kanzow, Torsten / et al: Seasonal variability of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation at 11° S inferred from bottom pressure measurements. 2021. Copernicus Publications.

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