Tides regulate the flow and density of Antarctic Bottom Water from the western Ross Sea.

Bowen, Melissa M.; Fernandez, Denise; Gordon, Arnold L.; Huber, Bruce A.; Castagno, Pasquale; Falco, Pierpaolo; Budillon, Giorgio; Gunn, Kathryn L.; Forcen-Vazquez, Aitana

Antarctic Bottom Water (AABW) stores heat and gases over decades to centuries after contact with the atmosphere during formation on the Antarctic shelf and subsequent flow into the global deep ocean. Dense water from the western Ross Sea, a primary source of AABW, shows changes in water properties and volume over the last few decades. Here we show, using multiple years of moored observations, that the density and speed of the outflow are consistent with a release from the Drygalski Trough controlled by the density in Terra Nova Bay (the “accelerator”) and the tidal mixing (the “brake”). We suggest tides create two peaks in density and flow each year at the equinoxes and could cause changes of ~ 30% in the flow and density over the 18.6-year lunar nodal tide. Based on our dynamic model, we find tides can explain much of the decadal variability in the outflow with longer term changes likely driven by the density in Terra Nova Bay.


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Scientific Reports

More About This Work

Academic Units
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Ocean and Climate Physics
Published Here
June 27, 2023