DOI: 10.1029/2023jc019636 ISSN: 2169-9275

Seasonal and Interannual Variability Between Upper Ocean Processes and the Slope Current in the Region Around the Cosmonauts Sea Off East Antarctica

Shikai Yang, Meng Zhou, Xuhua Cheng
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Oceanography


The impacts of large‐scale climate variability on the current system and meridional transport in the Cosmonauts Sea off East Antarctica are studied by employing the satellite‐observed absolute dynamic topography (ADT) data and reanalysis hydrographic data. Three currents converge in the Cosmonauts Sea: the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC), the Weddell Gyre Eastern Branch (WGeb) and the Antarctic Slope Current (ASC) containing the Antarctic Slope Front (ASF) topographically locked in the slope region. Strong seasonal and interannual variations are associated with these currents. The ACC and ASC are both stronger in autumn and weaker in spring and summer, while the WGeb extends eastward in winter and retreats in summer. On the interannual timescale, the Southern Annular Mode (SAM) reinforces the westerlies during its positive phase, pushing the ACC southward and suppressing westward ASC, and vice versa. The results on related mechanisms suggest the significant barotropic modulations induced by the winds on ocean dynamics from both the sea surface and interior ocean. The westerlies could affect the meridional sea level gradient through Ekman transport convergence, inducing the geostrophic adjustment of currents. Moreover, the vorticity input from the wind field produces meridional water transport under the topographic and planetary β‐effects, potentially influencing the structure of the ASF and associated ASC. This frontal adjustment is superimposed on the background barotropic variations and causes strong local responses of the currents to the remote wind forcing, which indicates a propagation of variability signals from large‐scale barotropic circulations to frontal‐scale baroclinic currents in the ocean interior.

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