Vertical structure of mesoscale eddies in the eastern South Pacific Ocean : A composite analysis from altimetry and Argo profiling floats Article - Novembre 2011

Alexis Chaigneau, Marie Le Texier, Gérard Eldin, Carmen Grados, Oscar Pizarro

Alexis Chaigneau, Marie Le Texier, Gérard Eldin, Carmen Grados, Oscar Pizarro, « Vertical structure of mesoscale eddies in the eastern South Pacific Ocean : A composite analysis from altimetry and Argo profiling floats  », Journal of Geophysical Research, novembre 2011, p. 11025. ISSN 0148-0227

Abstract

The mean vertical structure of mesoscale eddies in the Peru-Chile Current System is investigated by combining the historical records of Argo float profiles and satellite altimetry data. A composite average of 420 (526) profiles acquired by Argo floats that surfaced into cyclonic (anticyclonic) mesoscale eddies allowed constructing the mean three-dimensional eddy structure of the eastern South Pacific Ocean. Key differences in their thermohaline vertical structure were revealed. The core of cyclonic eddies (CEs) is centered at ˜150 m depth within the 25.2-26.0 kg m<sup>-3</sup> potential density layer corresponding to the thermocline. In contrast, the core of the anticyclonic eddies (AEs) is located below the thermocline at ˜400 m depth impacting the 26.0-26.8 kg m<sup>-3</sup> density layer. This difference was attributed to the mechanisms involved in the eddy formation. While intrathermocline CEs would be formed by instabilities of the surface equatorward coastal currents, the subthermocline AEs are likely to be shed by the subsurface poleward Peru-Chile Undercurrent. In the eddy core, maximum temperature and salinity anomalies are of ±1°C and ±0.1, with positive (negative) values for AEs (CEs). This study also provides new insight into the potential impact of mesoscale eddies for the cross-shore transport of heat and salt in the eastern South Pacific. Considering only the fraction of the water column associated with the fluid trapped within the eddies, each CE and AE has a typical volume anomaly flux of ˜0.1 Sv and yields to a heat and salt transport anomaly of ±1-3 × 10<sup>11</sup> W and ±3-8 × 10<sup>3</sup> kg s<sup>-1</sup>, respectively.

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