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The circulation and water masses of the Antarctic shelf and continental slope between 30 and 80°E

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-17, 05:24 authored by Meijers, AJ, Andreas KlockerAndreas Klocker, Nathaniel BindoffNathaniel Bindoff, Guy Williams, Marsland, SJ
The circulation and water masses from the Antarctic continental shelf to 62S between 30 and 80E are described using hydrographic data collected on seven hydrographic sections during the Baseline Research on Oceanography, Krill and the Environment-West (BROKE-West) experiment. The eastern limb of the Weddell Gyre dominates circulation between 30 and 40E, and is significantly cooler and fresher than the region to the east. The Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) extends from the north into the survey region east of 40E, reaching as far south as 65.5S at 60E. This results in increasing observed maximum temperature and salinities progressively towards the east, peaking at 80E due to the intrusion of the southern ACC Front (sACCF) to 63S. This southward extension is steered by the southern end of Kerguelen Plateau, causing a horizontal shear of over between the eastward ACC and westward-flowing Antarctic Slope Current (ASC). The ASC is observed at all six meridional sections immediately north of the shelf break. It is strongly barotropic and transports a total of westwards, while the bottom referenced baroclinic component only contributes . At each section this current intensifies to a narrow westward ‘jet’ with absolute velocities up to over the steepest shelf slope gradients. At 70E a ‘V’ shape is observed in the ASF. This, and the nearby presence of denser shelf water and ice-shelf water, is characteristic of Antarctic Bottom Water (AABW) formation, but no new AABW is found on this section. Instead, significantly warmer, saltier and less oxygenated AABW to the east and newly formed AABW high on the continental slope immediately to the west suggest a formation region just west of 70E. This newly formed AABW progressively becomes warmer and saltier west of 60E and is observed extending offshore and moving westward below eastward flowing water masses. ACC frontal positions are found to be 1–2° farther north in the survey region than suggested by historical climatology.


Publication title

Deep-Sea Research. Part 2: Topical Studies in Oceanography










Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies


Pergamon-Elsevier Science Ltd

Place of publication

The Boulevard, Langford Lane, Kidlington, Oxford, England, Ox5 1Gb

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The definitive version is available at

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  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Understanding climate change not elsewhere classified

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