Rapid subsurface warming and circulation changes of Antarctic coastal waters by poleward shifting winds

Paul Spence*, Stephen M. Griffies, Matthew H. England, Andrew Mc C. Hogg, Oleg A. Saenko, Nicolas C. Jourdain

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    172 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    The southern hemisphere westerly winds have been strengthening and shifting poleward since the 1950s. This wind trend is projected to persist under continued anthropogenic forcing, but the impact of the changing winds on Antarctic coastal heat distribution remains poorly understood. Here we show that a poleward wind shift at the latitudes of the Antarctic Peninsula can produce an intense warming of subsurface coastal waters that exceeds 2°C at 200-700 m depth. The model simulated warming results from a rapid advective heat flux induced by weakened near-shore Ekman pumping and is associated with weakened coastal currents. This analysis shows that anthropogenically induced wind changes can dramatically increase the temperature of ocean water at ice sheet grounding lines and at the base of floating ice shelves around Antarctica, with potentially significant ramifications for global sea level rise. Key Points Twenty-first century winds drive Antarctic coastal warming and circulation changes The winds cause coastal isotherms to shoal and weaken coastal currents Fine model grid resolution is required to represent the coastal Ekman dynamics

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)4601-4610
    Number of pages10
    JournalGeophysical Research Letters
    Volume41
    Issue number13
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 16 Jul 2014

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