The Antarctic Circumpolar Current in Three Dimensions
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A simple theory is developed for the large-scale three-dimensional structure of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current and the upper cell of its overturning circulation. The model is based on a perturbation expansion about the zonal-average residual-mean model developed previously by Marshall and Radko. The problem is solved using the method of characteristics for idealized patterns of wind and buoyancy forcing constructed from observations. The equilibrium solutions found represent a balance between the Eulerian meridional overturning, eddy-induced circulation, and downstream advection by the mean flow. Depth and stratification of the model thermocline increase in the Atlantic–Indian Oceans sector where the mean wind stress is large. Residual circulation in the model is characterized by intensification of the overturning circulation in the Atlantic–Indian sector and reduction in strength in the Pacific Ocean region. Predicted three-dimensional patterns of stratification and residual circulation in the interior of the ACC are compared with observations.
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