Circulation and heat budget in a regional climatological simulation of the Southwestern Tropical Atlantic.

Marcus SILVA, Moacyr ARAÚJO, Jacques SERVAIN, Penven Pierrick


Surface and vertical thermal structures, heat budget in the surface mixing layer, and mass transports are explored in the south-western tropical Atlantic (5oS-25oS / 20oW-47oW). That region, where part of the South Equatorial Current (SEC) enters at its eastern border, is of prime interest by feeding many western boundary currents along the eastern Brazilian edge, and by contributing to the climatic variability over the Northeast Brazil. The Regional Ocean Model System (ROMS) is used here to simulate a seasonal cycle of the ocean circulation with an isotropic horizontal grid resolution of 1/12o and 40 terrain-following layers. Such a high-resolution regional model allows illustrating the complexity of meso-scales phenomena which occur in that region. Model results are compared with the very first annual series of observed thermal profiles available in the region thanks to the three PIRATA-SWE moorings recently deployed. Simulated thermal structure at the upper ocean layers agrees with in-situ data set. Seasonal evolutions of atmospheric and oceanic balances involving in the mixing layer heat budget are locally discussed. The magnitude of oceanic components (mainly the vertical diffusion and the horizontal advection) is about of the same order than of atmospheric forcing, and practically always opposes to it, with some local and seasonal timing differences. Simulated meridional transports across three zonal sections extending from continent to PIRATA sites provide new insight in the knowledge of the western boundary current system. Another section running along the PIRATA-SWE array indicates how the divergence of SEC is complex. This result encourages the need and future expansion of the observational PIRATA array system in that region. Keywords: South Western Tropical Atlantic, Upper Ocean layers, Ocean heat budget, PIRATA-SWE moorings, ROMS

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