Ocean currents and upwelling around Antarctica


The ocean around Antarctica – the Southern Ocean, is a major player for biological production and global ocean circulation. The currents around Antarctica connect and mix the water masses of the Pacific, the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean. This is the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC), a wind driven current and the strongest current in the world. The strong flow also isolate Antarctica from warm waters to the north, keeping it cool. This is an important feature for sea-ice production. The same winds that drive the ACC also drive Ekman-upwelling both a lower and an upper cell. This is critical for the overturning of deep and bottom water. Since the deeper upwelling water is nutrient rich, the Southern Ocean mixed layer is a favourable place for biology. One famous example is the Southern Ocean trap. This is a feature that traps dissolved silicon in the region, making it the habitat for many silicifiers, for example diatoms and radiolaria. Going in the opposite direction as the ACC is the slope current. This current is generated by dense sinking water masses that are deflected by the Coriolis force.

Poster number:


GEOF338 - Spring 2023

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