Impact of Current-Wind Interaction on Vertical Processes in the Southern Ocean

Hajoon Song, John Marshall, Dennis J. McGillicuddy, Hyodae Seo

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8 Citations (Scopus)


Momentum input from westerly winds blowing over the Southern Ocean can be modulated by mesoscale surface currents and result in changes in large-scale ocean circulation. Here, using an eddy-resolving 1/20 degree ocean model configured near Drake Passage, we evaluate the impact of current-wind interaction on vertical processes. We find a reduction in momentum input from the wind, reduced eddy kinetic energy, and a modification of Ekman pumping rates. Wind stress curl resulting from current-wind interaction leads to net upward motion, while the nonlinear Ekman pumping term associated with horizontal gradients of relative vorticity induces net downward motion. The spatially averaged mixed layer depth estimated using a density criteria is shoaled slightly by current-wind interaction. Current-wind interaction, on the other hand, enhances the stratification in the thermocline below the mixed layer. Such changes have the potential to alter biogeochemical processes including nutrient supply, biological productivity, and air-sea carbon dioxide exchange.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2020JC016046
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Apr 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The MITgcm can be obtained online ( ). The geostrophic current product derived from the sea level anomaly can be downloaded in the Copernicus Marine and Environment Monitoring Service of Ssalto/Duacs gridded “allsat” series and along‐track Sea Level Anomalies, Absolute Dynamic Topographies and Geostrophic velocities over the Global Ocean, Mediterranean Sea, Black Sea, European Seas and Acrtic Ocean areas, in Delayed‐Time and in Near‐Real‐Time. Resources supporting this work were provided by the NASA High‐End Computing (HEC) Program through the NASA Advanced Supercomputing (NAS) Division at Ames Research Center with the award number SMD‐15‐5752. H. S., J. M., and D. J. M. were supported by the NSF MOBY project (OCE‐1048926 and OCE‐1048897). H. S. acknowledges the support by National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) grant funded by the Korea government (MSIT) (NRF‐2019R1C1C1003663) and Yonsei University Research Fund of 2018‐22‐0053. D. J. M. also gratefully acknowledges NSF and NASA support, along with the Holger W. Jannasch and Columbus O'Donnell Iselin shared chairs for Excellence in Oceanography. H. Seo acknowledges the support from the ONR (N00014‐17‐1‐2398), NOAA (NA10OAR4310376), and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Endowed Fund for Innovative Research at WHOI. We also thank two anonymous referees whose comments significantly improved the presentation of results.

Publisher Copyright:
©2020. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Oceanography


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