Eddy contributions to the meridional transport of salt in the North Atlantic

Type Article
Date 2012-05
Language English
Author(s) Treguier Anne-Marie1, Deshayes Julie1, Lique CamilleORCID2, Dussin Raphael3, Molines Jean-Marc3
Affiliation(s) 1 : CNRS, Ifremer IRD UBO, Lab Phys Oceans, F-29280 Plouzane, France.
2 : Univ Washington, Joint Inst Study Atmosphere & Ocean, Seattle, WA 98195 USA.
3 : LEGI, Grenoble, France.
Source Journal Of Geophysical Research-oceans (0148-0227) (Amer Geophysical Union), 2012-05 , Vol. 117 , N. C05010 , P. 19 pp.
DOI 10.1029/2012JC007927
WOS© Times Cited 46
Abstract The meridional transport of salt in the Atlantic ocean is an important process for climate, controlling the stability of the meridional overturning circulation. The contribution of transient eddies to this transport is quantified in an eddy resolving North Atlantic model at 1/12 degrees resolution (NATL12), and compared with lower resolution North-Atlantic and global 1/4 degrees models. In NATL12 between 10 degrees N and 40 degrees N, there is a volume loss by evaporation of 0.6 Sverdrups (Sv). The divergence of the eddy flux of salt (normalized by a reference salinity of 34.8) is 0.2 Sv over the region, a significant fraction of the total air-seawater exchange, but it is compensated by an opposite convergent transport of salt by the mean flow, so that the total transport of salt is small. The compensation between eddy and mean salt transport is almost complete in a multicentury long global model experiment, but less effective in NATL12 because the short integration time does not allow the salt content to equilibrate and the model drift is large. Eddies arising from baroclinic instability contribute to the meridional salt transports at the northern and southern boundary of the subtropical gyre, where they appear consistent with a lateral diffusion acting on the mean salinity gradient. However, the eddy transport of salt is the sum of two terms: an advective contribution (arising from the correlations of velocity and isopycnal thicknesses) and a diffusion along isopycnals. Both components have the same amplitude at the southern boundary of the subtropical gyre, while diffusion is dominant at the northern boundary.
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