Ocean Dynamics

, Volume 53, Issue 4, pp 332–342 | Cite as

Meridional Turner angles and density compensation in the upper ocean

  • Duncan Tippins
  • Matthias Tomczak


The World Ocean Atlas 1998 is used to determine the global field of the meridional density ratio R ρ hy =αΔT/βΔS, where temperature and salinity changes ΔT and ΔS are evaluated along meridians, in and below the mixed layer. The focus of the analysis is the identification of regions where the R ρ hy field matches the values R ρ=2 sometimes suggested as the commonly perceived state of the ocean and R ρ=1, the condition of density compensation. Results are presented through fields of the meridional Turner angle Tu hy =arctan(R hy ρ) and through histograms of Tu hy for the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans at the ocean surface and at 300 m depth. At the 300-m depth level, which in the subtropics is representative of conditions in the permanent thermocline, the most frequently encountered values of the meridional density ratio are R ρ hy =3.2 in the North and South Pacific, R ρ hy =2.0 in the South Atlantic and Indian and R ρ hy =1.6 in the North Atlantic Ocean. Conditions in the mixed layer are more variable and show seasonal differences, but R ρ hy =2.0 occurs prominently in all ocean regions during winter and in all regions but the Atlantic during summer. Summer values for the Atlantic Ocean are R ρ hy =3.2 in the Northern Hemisphere and R ρ hy =2.4 in the Southern Hemisphere. Detailed analysis of R ρ hy across the Subtropical Front (STF) confirms the most frequently observed values but shows zonal variation along the front in some oceans. Nearly complete density compensation (R ρ hy =1) in the mixed layer is encountered in the STF of the eastern North Pacific, the eastern South Pacific and the eastern Indian Ocean. The eastern Indian Ocean south of Australia is also the only region where complete density compensation in the STF occurs below the mixed layer.


Turner angle Density compensation Subtropical front 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Bureau of Meteorology, GPOMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.School of Chemistry Physics and Earth ScienceFlinders UniversityAdelaide SAAustralia

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