Ocean Dynamics

, Volume 64, Issue 10, pp 1431–1446 | Cite as

Methods for estimating the velocities of the Brazil Current in the pre-salt reservoir area off southeast Brazil (23 S–26 S)

  • Tiago Carrilho Biló
  • Ilson Carlos Almeida da Silveira
  • Wellington Ceccopieri Belo
  • Belmiro Mendes de Castro
  • Alberto Ricardo Piola


The Brazil Current (BC) is likely the least observed and investigated subtropical western boundary current in the world. This study proposes a simple and systematic methodology to estimate quasi-synoptic cross-sectional speeds of the BC within the Santos Basin (23 S–26 S) based on the dynamic method using several combinations of data: Conductivity, temperature, and depth (CTD), temperature profiles, CTD and vessel-mounted Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (VMADCP), and temperature profiles and VMADCP. All of the geostrophic estimates agree well with lowered Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (LADCP) velocity observations and yield volume transports of -5.56 ±1.31 and 2.50 ±1.01 Sv for the BC and the Intermediate Western Boundary Current (IWBC), respectively. The LADCP data revealed that the BC flows southwestward and is ∼100 km wide, 500 m deep, and has a volume transport of approximately -5.75 ±1.53 Sv and a maximum speed of 0.59 m s−1. Underneath the BC, the IWBC flows northeastward and has a vertical extent of approximately 1,300 m, a width of ∼60 km, a maximum velocity of ∼0.22 m s−1, and a volume transport of 4.11 ± 2.01 Sv. Our analysis indicates that in the absence of the observed velocities, the isopycnal (σ 0) of 26.82 kg m−3 (∼500 dbar) is an adequate level of no motion for use in geostrophic calculations. Additionally, a simple linear relationship between the temperature and the specific volume anomaly can be used for a reliable first estimate of the BC-IWBC system in temperature-only transects.


Brazil Current Intermediate Western Boundary Current Santos Basin circulation Geostrophic estimates 



We acknowledge the Brazilian National oil company PETROBRAS for the CERES experiment data set and their partnership. We also acknowledge the two anonymous reviewers and MSc. César Barbedo Rocha for thoughtful insights and important suggestions. This research was funded by Séo Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP, 2012/05221-2 and 2013/10475-6). Ilson Carlos Almeida da Silveira and Belmiro Mendes de Castro acknowledge support from CNPq (307122/2010-7).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tiago Carrilho Biló
    • 1
  • Ilson Carlos Almeida da Silveira
    • 1
  • Wellington Ceccopieri Belo
    • 2
  • Belmiro Mendes de Castro
    • 1
  • Alberto Ricardo Piola
    • 3
  1. 1.Instituto Oceanográfico da Universidade de São PauloSão PauloBrasil
  2. 2.Centro de Pesquisas e Desenvolvimento Leopoldo A. Miguez de MelloPetróleo BrasileiroBrasil
  3. 3.Sección Dinámica Oceánica, Servicio de Hidrografia Naval (SHN)Universidad de Buenos Aires, and Instituto Franco-Argentino sobre Estudios de Clima y sus Impactos, CONICETBuenos AiresArgentina

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