Eddy-driven transports in the Antarctic Circumpolar Current


Professor Dr. Carsten Eden 
Universität Hamburg 
Institut für Meereskunde

project description

In the Southern Ocean, eddy-driven transports can be as large as mean transports. In particular the meridional, cross frontal transports are affected or even controlled by meso-scale eddy activity. On the other hand, these transports set the role of the Southern Ocean as a major oceanic sink in the global carbon cycle. In ocean models, such variability has to be adequately resolved or parameterised. The parameterisation by Gent and McWilliams (1990) is currently used to account for such eddy-driven transports, in which the so-called thickness diffusivity K has to be specified. Only a rough order of I magnitude is currently known for «, but, in particular in the Southern Ocean, the choice of K strongly affects meridional transports of mass and tracers and is therefore of crucial importance to quantify the role of the Southern Ocean in the climate system and the global carbon cycle. It is proposed to estimate the thickness diffusivity K in the Southern Ocean from synthetic data of an existing realistic eddy-resolving ocean model. While previous attempts highlight the problem of rotational eddy fluxes which complicate the estimation procedure, it has been recently shown that the definition and use of physically meaningful rotational fluxes reduces this problem. Therefore, reliable estimates of K in the Southern Ocean appear possible for the first time. Furthermore, it is proposed to estimate relations between mean quantities predicted by ocean models and thickness diffusivity, necessary in order to build a self-consistent eddy parameterisation.


DFG-Verfahren: Infrastruktur-Schwerpunktprogramme

term from 2006 to 2011