Climate Dynamics

, Volume 34, Issue 2–3, pp 153–184 | Cite as

Dynamics of sea-surface temperature anomalies in the Southern Ocean diagnosed from a 2D mixed-layer model

  • Frédéric Vivier
  • Daniele Iudicone
  • Fabiano Busdraghi
  • Young-Hyang Park


We analyze the processes responsible for the generation and evolution of sea-surface temperature anomalies observed in the Southern Ocean during a decade based on a 2D diagnostic mixed-layer model in which geostrophic advection is prescribed from altimetry. Anomalous air–sea heat flux is the dominant term of the heat budget over most of the domain, while anomalous Ekman heat fluxes account for 20–40% of the variance in the latitude band 40°−60°S. In the ACC pathway, lateral fluxes of heat associated with anomalous geostrophic currents are a major contributor, dominating downstream of several topographic features, reflecting the influence of eddies and frontal migrations. A significant fraction of the variability of large-scale SST anomalies is correlated with either ENSO or the SAM, each mode contributing roughly equally. The relation between the heat budget terms and these climate modes is investigated, showing in particular that anomalous Ekman and air–sea heat fluxes have a co-operating effect (with regional exceptions), hence the large SST response associated with each mode. It is further shown that ENSO- or SAM-locked anomalous geostrophic currents generate substantial heat fluxes in all three basins with magnitude comparable with that of atmospheric forcings for ENSO, and smaller for the SAM except for limited areas. ENSO-locked forcings generate SST anomalies along the ACC pathway, and advection by mean flows is found to be a non-negligible contribution to the heat budget, exhibiting a wavenumber two zonal structure, characteristic of the Antarctic Circumpolar Wave. By contrast SAM-related forcings are predominantly zonally uniform along the ACC, hence smaller zonal SST gradients and a lesser role of mean advection, except in the SouthWest Atlantic. While modeled SST anomalies are significantly correlated with observations over most of the Southern Ocean, the analysis of the data-model discrepancies suggests that vertical ocean physics may play a significant role in the nonseasonal heat budget, especially in some key regions for mode water formation.


Southern Ocean SST anomalies Mixed layer Heat budget ENSO SAM 



This study has benefited from discussions with Drs D. Ferreira, J.-B. Sallée, J. Le Sommer, F. d’Oviedo. Valuable comments from Dr Douglas Martinson and an anonymous reviewer have been of great help to improve the manuscript. The altimeter data were produced by Ssalto/Duacs as part of the Environment and Climate EU Enact project (EVK2-CT2001-00117) and distributed by Aviso, with support from CNES. The mean dynamic topography Rio05 was produced by CLS Space Oceanography Division. Argo data were collected and made freely available by the International ARGO project and the national programmes contributing to it. Other sources of hydrographic data used to estimate the MLD include the AMT project, and the SeaOS program (Elephant seals as oceanographic samplers) supported by CNES. We thank CNRS, CNES (OSTST program), and the French-Italian University for their support.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Frédéric Vivier
    • 1
  • Daniele Iudicone
    • 2
  • Fabiano Busdraghi
    • 2
    • 3
  • Young-Hyang Park
    • 4
  1. 1.Laboratoire d’Océanographie et du Climat, Experimentation et Approches Numériques, Institut Pierre-Simon Laplace (LOCEAN-IPSL)Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Université Pierre et Marie CurieParisFrance
  2. 2.Stazione Zoologica di Napoli (SZN)NaplesItaly
  3. 3.LOCEAN-IPSLParisFrance
  4. 4.LOCEAN-IPSLMuséum National d’Histoire NaturelleParisFrance

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