Response of Southern Ocean ventilation to changes in midlatitude westerly winds

Darryn W. Waugh*, Andrew M.C.C. Hogg, Paul Spence, Matthew H. England, Thomas W.N. Haine

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    24 Citations (Scopus)


    Changes in ventilation of the Southern Hemisphere oceans in response to changes in midlatitude westerly winds are examined by analyzing the ideal age tracer from global eddy-permitting ocean–ice model simulations in which there is an abrupt increase and/or a meridional shift in the winds. The age response in mode and intermediate waters is found to be close to linear; the response of a combined increase and shift of peak winds is similar to the sum of the individual responses to an increase and a shift. Further, a barotropic response, following Sverdrup balance, can explain much of the age response to the changes in wind stress. There are similar peak decreases (of around 50 years) in the ideal age for a 40% increase or 2.58 poleward shift in the wind stress. However, while the age decreases throughout the thermocline for an increase in the winds, for a poleward shift in the winds the age increases in the north part of the thermocline and there are decreases in age only south of 358S. As a consequence, the change in the volume of young water differs, with a 15% increase in the volume of water with ages younger than 50 years for a 40% increase in the winds but essentially no change in this volume for a 2.58 shift. As ventilation plays a critical role in the uptake of carbon and heat, these results suggest that the storage of anthropogenic carbon and heat in mode and intermediate waters will likely increase with a strengthening of the winds, but will be much less sensitive to a meridional shift in the peak wind stress.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)5345-5361
    Number of pages17
    JournalJournal of Climate
    Issue number17
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2019


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