A model of the upper branch of the meridional overturning of the southern ocean.
(Marshall, John and Radko, Timour), PROGRESS IN OCEANOGRAPHY, vol. 70, no. 2-4, pp. pages, 2006.
A zonal-average model of the upper branch of the meridional overturning circulation of the southern ocean is constructed and used to discuss the processes – wind, buoyancy, eddy forcing and boundary conditions that control its strength and sense of circulation. The geometry of the thermocline “wedge”, set by the mapping between the vertical spacing of buoyancy surfaces (the stratification) on the equatorial flank of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current and their outcrop at the sea surface, is seen to play a central role by setting the interior large-scale potential vorticity distribution. It is shown that the action of eddies mixing this potential vorticity field induces a residual flow in the meridional plane much as is observed, with upwelling of fluid around Antarctica, northward surface flow and subduction to form intermediate water. Along with this overturning circulation there is a concomitant air-sea buoyancy flux directed in to the ocean.