Advances in Atmospheric Sciences

, Volume 33, Issue 4, pp 442–451 | Cite as

Role of horizontal density advection in seasonal deepening of the mixed layer in the subtropical Southeast Pacific

  • Qinyu Liu
  • Yiqun Lu


The mechanisms behind the seasonal deepening of the mixed layer (ML) in the subtropical Southeast Pacific were investigated using the monthly Argo data from 2004 to 2012. The region with a deep ML (more than 175 m) was found in the region of (22°–30°S, 105°–90°W), reaching its maximum depth (~200 m) near (27°–28°S, 100°W) in September. The relative importance of horizontal density advection in determining the maximum ML location is discussed qualitatively. Downward Ekman pumping is key to determining the eastern boundary of the deep ML region. In addition, zonal density advection by the subtropical countercurrent (STCC) in the subtropical Southwest Pacific determines its western boundary, by carrying lighter water to strengthen the stratification and form a “shallow tongue” of ML depth to block the westward extension of the deep ML in the STCC region. The temperature advection by the STCC is the main source for large heat loss from the subtropical Southwest Pacific. Finally, the combined effect of net surface heat flux and meridional density advection by the subtropical gyre determines the northern and southern boundaries of the deep ML region: the ocean heat loss at the surface gradually increases from 22?S to 35?S, while the meridional density advection by the subtropical gyre strengthens the stratification south of the maximum ML depth and weakens the stratification to the north. The freshwater flux contribution to deepening the ML during austral winter is limited. The results are useful for understanding the role of ocean dynamics in the ML formation in the subtropical Southeast Pacific.


mixed layer seasonal deepening Southeast Pacific heat flux density advection 


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© Chinese National Committee for International Association of Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Science Press and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Physical Oceanography Laboratory/Qingdao Collaborative Innovation Center of Marine Science and TechnologyKey Laboratory of Ocean–Atmosphere Interaction and Climate in Universities of Shandong, Ocean University of ChinaQingdaoChina

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