Heat and salt transport throughout the North Pacific Ocean
Absolute geostrophic currents in the North Pacific Ocean are calculated using the P-vector method and gridded Argo profiling data from January 2004 to December 2012. Three-dimensional structures and seasonal variability of meridional heat transport (MHT) and meridional salt transport (MST) are analyzed. The results show that geostrophic and Ekman components are generally opposite in sign, with the southward geostrophic component dominating in the subtropics and the northward Ekman component dominating in the tropics. In combination with the net surface heat flux and the MST through the Bering Strait, the MHT and MST of the western boundary currents (WBCs) are estimated for the first time. The results suggest that the WBCs are of great importance in maintaining the heat and salt balance of the North Pacific. The total interior MHT and MST in the tropics show nearly the same seasonal variability as that of the Ekman components, consistent with the variability of zonal wind stress. The geostrophic MHT in the tropics is mainly concentrated in the upper layers, while MST with large amplitude and annual variation can extend much deeper. This suggests that shallow processes dominate MHT in the North Pacific, while MST can be affected by deep ocean circulation. In the extratropical ocean, both MHT and MST are weak. However, there is relatively large and irregular seasonal variability of geostrophic MST, suggesting the importance of the geostrophic circulation in the MST of that area.
Keywordsabsolute geostrophic current P-vector meridional heat transport (MHT) meridional salt transport (MST)
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