Absolute geostrophic velocity within the Subantarctic Front in the Pacific Ocean

Kathleen A. Donohue, Eric Firing, Shuiming Chen

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Velocity measurements from a shipboard acoustic Doppler current profiler (ADCP) are used as a reference for geostrophic current calculations on six sections across the Subantarctic Front (SAF) in the Pacific Ocean. The resulting cross-track velocity estimates near the bottom range from 4 to 10 cm s-1 to the east in the eastward jet at the SAF; in adjacent regions of westward surface flow, the near-bottom velocity is usually to the west. On one section where simultaneous lowered ADCP velocity profiles are available, they confirm the results from the shipboard ADCP. Annual mean velocity sections from the Parallel Ocean Program numerical model also show near-bottom velocities exceeding 5 cm s-1, with the same tendency for the zonal velocity component near the bottom to match the direction of the surface jets. Transport across the entire Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) cannot be estimated accurately from ADCP-referenced geostrophic sections because even a very small cross-track bias integrates to a large error. A preliminary look at the 1992 model transport stream function shows that the effect of bottom-referencing varies from section to section; it can cause 40-Sv recirculations to be missed, and can cause net transport to be underestimated or overestimated by O(30 Sv).

Original languageEnglish
Article number2000JC000293
Pages (from-to)19869-19882
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
Issue numberC9
StatePublished - Sep 15 2001
Externally publishedYes


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