Spatial and Temporal Variability of the Upper Ocean in the Drake Passage

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Matthew Hurley, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, United States, Sarah T Gille, UCSD, La Jolla, CA, United States and Matthew R Mazloff, SIO, La Jolla, CA, United States
Understanding the upper ocean is important for global climate and weather forecasting, as well as for determining the effect of the physical ocean on the marine ecosystem. Yet the upper ocean variability in the Southern Ocean remains poorly understood due to sparse in situ measurements. In this study we use a Southern Ocean state estimate developed for the years 2005 to 2010 to describe the spatial and temporal variability of the upper 400m of the Drake Passage region. We focus primarily on ocean heat content and mixed layer depth, and utilize a unique algorithm for finding mixed layer depth that examines steep density gradients within the region. Findings indicate these quantities vary considerably as a function of latitude, while temporal evolution occurs both on seasonal timescales and at high frequencies within each year.