Research ArticleOCEANOGRAPHY

Warm Circumpolar Deep Water transport toward Antarctica driven by local dense water export in canyons

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Science Advances  01 May 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 18, eaav2516
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aav2516


Poleward transport of warm Circumpolar Deep Water (CDW) has been linked to melting of Antarctic ice shelves. However, even the steady-state spatial distribution and mechanisms of CDW transport remain poorly understood. Using a global, eddying ocean model, we explore the relationship between the cross-slope transports of CDW and descending Dense Shelf Water (DSW). We find large spatial variability in CDW heat and volume transport around Antarctica, with substantially enhanced flow where DSW descends in canyons. The CDW and DSW transports are highly spatially correlated within ~20 km and temporally correlated on subdaily time scales. Focusing on the Ross Sea, we show that the relationship is driven by pulses of overflowing DSW lowering sea surface height, leading to net onshore CDW transport. The majority of simulated onshore CDW transport is concentrated in cold-water regions, rather than warm-water regions, with potential implications for ice-ocean interactions and global sea level rise.

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