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The Formation of Southern Ocean Gyres

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr Christian Buckingham.

Southern Ocean currents play a key role in the global climate and biological systems. They have an influence over the levels of atmospheric carbon and significantly affect global temperatures and sea level. The Southern Ocean is comprised of an interplay between the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, a powerful current circumnavigating the globe, and a series of sub-polar gyres, large scale rotating circulations. Gyres have an impact on biological processes through the up-welling of nutrients. They also affect the long term trend in melt rates of ice through the transport of heat to the Antarctic coastline. Over the past century a coherent theory of gyres has formed via a drive to understand the mechanisms of the Gulf Stream and the North Atlantic Ocean in general. We find, however, that gyres of the Southern Ocean depart slightly from the dynamics of most other gyres and remain poorly understood. Our aim is to investigate these deviations and arrive at a better understanding of the genesis of Southern Ocean gyres. In this talk we will display some preliminary idealised modeling results and propose some subtle dynamical differences between classical gyre theory of the North Atlantic and the formation of gyres in the Southern Ocean.

This talk is part of the British Antarctic Survey - Polar Oceans seminar series series.

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