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Southwest Pacific subtropical mode water: A climatology


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Holbrook, NJ and Maharaj, AM 2008 , 'Southwest Pacific subtropical mode water: A climatology' , Progress in Oceanography, vol. 77, no. 4 , pp. 298-315 , doi: 10.1016/j.pocean.2007.01.015.

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We find that STMW extends across the entire width of the Tasman Sea in a very broad swath between the Tropical Convergence in the north (just to the south of New Caledonia), the southeast Australian coast in the west to as far south as 39°S (likely due to the southward extension of the EAC), and eastwards along the Southern STMW boundary in a meandering pathway that broadly follows the Tasman Front. The total STMW volume across the region (i.e., west of 180°) varies seasonally by a factor of more than three between the estimated maximum of 6.6 (±0.5) × 1014 m3 in October and minimum of 1.9 (±0.4) × 1014 m3 in May. Interannual variations O (±0.5 × 1014 m3) are also observed in the spatial extent of the thick mode water and its total volume. El Niño composite maps show an anomalous thickening of the STMW during the El Niño year with October positive thickness anomalies in excess of +20 m (total volume anomaly of +0.6 × 1014 m3) manifested throughout the subtropical gyre interior as far north as New Caledonia. Total volume anomalies tend to be positive from January of the El Niño year through to the July following (18 months). The maximum correlation coefficient r = −0.3 between 3-monthly STMW volume anomalies and the Southern Oscillation index is statistically significant at the 95% confidence level. We conclude that during the anomalous cooling of the upper Southwest Pacific Ocean in the El Niño year, winter-time convection and STMW formation is enhanced across the region resulting in an El Niño – Southern Oscillation climate signal that is identifiable below the mixed layer by the increased STMW volume which persists through to the following winter. Finally, some evidence for the possible decadal modulation of the STMW variability is also discussed.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Holbrook, NJ and Maharaj, AM
Keywords: Subtropical mode water Thermostad Water mass El Niño – Southern Oscillation (ENSO) Southwest Pacific Ocean DASPOT
Journal or Publication Title: Progress in Oceanography
ISSN: 0079-6611
DOI / ID Number: 10.1016/j.pocean.2007.01.015
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