Two Decades of Full-Depth Current Velocity Observations From a Moored Observatory in the Central Equatorial Atlantic at 0°N, 23°W.

Tuchen, Franz Philip , Brandt, Peter , Hahn, Johannes , Hummels, Rebecca , Krahmann, Gerd , Bourlès, Bernard, Provost, Christine, McPhaden, Michael J. and Toole, John M. (2022) Two Decades of Full-Depth Current Velocity Observations From a Moored Observatory in the Central Equatorial Atlantic at 0°N, 23°W. Open Access Frontiers in Marine Science, 9 . Art.Nr. 910979. DOI 10.3389/fmars.2022.910979.

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Regional climate variability in the tropical Atlantic, from interannual to decadal time scales, is inevitably connected to changes in the strength and position of the individual components of the tropical current system with impacts on societally relevant climate hazards such as anomalous rainfall or droughts over the surrounding continents (Bourlès et al., 2019; Foltz et al., 2019). Furthermore, the lateral supply of dissolved oxygen in the tropical Atlantic upper-ocean is closely linked to the zonal current bands (Brandt et al., 2008; Brandt et al., 2012; Burmeister et al., 2020) and especially to the Equatorial Undercurrent (EUC) and its long-term variations with potential implications for regional marine ecosystems (Brandt et al., 2021). The eastward flowing EUC is located between 70 to 200 m depth and forms one of the strongest tropical currents with maximum velocities of up to 1 m s-1 and maximum variability on seasonal time scales (Brandt et al., 2014; Johns et al., 2014). In the intermediate to deep equatorial Atlantic, variability on longer time scales is mainly governed by alternating, vertically-stacked, zonal currents (equatorial deep jets (EDJs); Johnson and Zhang, 2003). At a fixed location, the phases of these jets are propagating downward with time, implying that parts of their energy must propagate upward towards the surface (Brandt et al., 2011). In fact, a pronounced interannual cycle of about 4.5 years, that is associated with EDJs, is projected onto surface parameters such as sea surface temperature or precipitation (Brandt et al., 2011) further demonstrating the importance of understanding equatorial circulation variability and its role in tropical climate variability.

While variability in the zonal velocity component on the equator is focused on seasonal to interannual time scales (Brandt et al., 2016; Claus et al., 2016; Kopte et al., 2018), meridional velocity fluctuations dominate the intraseasonal period range (20 to 50 days) due to the presence and passage of westward propagating Tropical Instability Waves (TIWs; Grodsky et al., 2005; Bunge et al., 2007; Wenegrat and McPhaden, 2015; Tuchen et al., 2018; Specht et al., 2021). In general, intraseasonal variability in the central equatorial Atlantic is mainly attributed to TIWs in the upper ocean (Athie and Marin, 2008), while intraseasonal variability in the deep ocean is associated with the signature of equatorial Yanai waves (Ascani et al., 2015; Tuchen et al., 2018, Körner et al., 2022). The observed and modelled interaction between intraseasonal equatorial waves and the aforementioned EDJs was found to maintain the deep equatorial circulation against dissipation (Greatbatch et al., 2018; Bastin et al., 2020) pointing toward the importance of intraseasonal variability for equatorial ocean dynamics.

These findings are largely based on, or underpinned by a unique and steadily expanding data set of current velocity observations in the central equatorial Atlantic Ocean. Since 2001, current velocities have been measured almost continuously as part of a multilateral collaboration, the Prediction and Research Moored Array in the Tropical Atlantic (PIRATA), that regularly services a moored observatory located at 0°N/23°W (Bourlès et al., 2019). The significance of this data set is characterized by the length of the time series and by the full-depth coverage of current velocity observations which allow for a detailed analysis of both upper-ocean and deep-ocean dynamics on a wide range of time scales and frequencies. For instance, it enables the decomposition of the current velocity time series into vertical modes pointing toward the existence of resonant basin modes and identifying different sources of deep intraseasonal variability (Brandt et al., 2016; Claus et al., 2016; Greatbatch et al., 2018; Tuchen et al., 2018, Körner et al. under review).

Here, we present 20 years of full-depth current velocity observations at 0°N/23°W. The aim of this study is to provide the scientific community with a publicly available reference data set that could be used in manifold ways, including, for instance, the validation of ocean models or reanalysis products.

Document Type: Article
Funder compliance: info:eu-repo/grantAgreement/EC/FP7/603521 ; BMBF: 03F06518
Keywords: ocean observations; physical oceanography; equatorial Atlantic circulation; ocean currents; moored observations; climate variability
Research affiliation: OceanRep > SFB 754
OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB1 Ocean Circulation and Climate Dynamics > FB1-PO Physical Oceanography
Woods Hole
Kiel University
Main POF Topic: PT2: Ocean and Cryosphere
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: Yes
Publisher: Frontiers
Related URLs:
Date Deposited: 21 Jul 2022 08:42
Last Modified: 07 Feb 2024 15:39

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