Spatial Variations of Antarctic Intermediate Water in the Caribbean Sea Due To Vertical Mixing Along Its Path

Carine G. van der Boog*, Henk A. Dijkstra, Julie D. Pietrzak, Caroline A. Katsman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

Because of its pronounced fresh signature, the properties of the northward-flowing Antarctic Intermediate Water (AAIW) affect the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation. Hence, understanding modifications of AAIW along its path is important. Here, we analyze AAIW changes along its path in the Caribbean Sea and assess whether vertical fluxes from background turbulence and from double-diffusive mixing in thermohaline staircases can explain these variations. We deduce the occurrence rate of staircases (7%) and estimate the flux ratio (Formula presented.) from Argo float profiles. In combination with vertical fluxes from background turbulence, these values are used in a steady-state advection-diffusion model to estimate the effective diffusivity of salt that arises from double diffusion (Formula presented.). This value for (Formula presented.) is similar to observed values (Schmitt, 2005, https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1108678), implying the observed modification of AAIW in the Caribbean Sea may be attributable primarily to vertical mixing in the region itself.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2021GL095977
Number of pages10
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Volume49
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Keywords

  • background turbulence
  • double diffusion
  • vertical mixing
  • water mass

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