Project Information
Weddell Gyre Mean Circulation and Eddy Statistics from Floats
Short Title:
Weddell Gyre Mean Circulation and Eddy Statistics from Floats
Start Date:
End Date:
The Weddell Gyre is one of the major components of the Southern Ocean circulation system, linking heat and carbon fluxes in the Antarctic Circumpolar Current to the continental margins. Water masses entering the Weddell Gyre are modified as they move in a great circular route around the gyre margin and change through processes involving air-sea-cryosphere interactions as well as through ocean eddies that mix properties across the gyre boundaries. Some of the denser water masses exit the gyre through pathways along the northern boundary, and ultimately ventilate the global deep ocean as Antarctic Bottom Water. While in-situ and satellite observations, as well as computer modeling efforts, provide estimates of the large-scale average flow within the gyre, details of the smaller-scale, or "mesoscale" eddy flow remain elusive. The proposed research will quantify mixing due to mesoscale eddies within the Weddell Gyre, as well as the transport of incoming deep water from the northeast, thought to be a result of transient eddies. Since the Weddell Gyre produces source water for about 40% of Antarctic Bottom Water formation, understanding the dynamics in this region helps to identify causes of documented changes in global bottom waters. This in turn, will give insight into how climate change is affecting global oceans, through modification of dense polar waters and Antarctic Bottom Water characteristics. This project aims to track 153 RAFOS-enabled Argo floats in the ice-covered regions of the Weddell Gyre. The resultant tracks along with all available Argo and earlier float data will be used to calculate Eulerian and Lagrangian means and eddy statistics for the Weddell Gyre. The study will link RAFOS tracks with Argo profiles under ice, allowing one to characterize the importance of eddies in water column modification at critical ice-edge boundaries and leads. With RAFOS tracks near the northeastern limit of the gyre, the project will investigate the eddy-driven processes of incoming Circumpolar Deep Water, to understand better the mechanisms and volume fluxes involved. Previous work shows that a large fraction of the mean circulation in the southern and western limits of the gyre, where it contacts the Antarctic continent, occurs in a narrow boundary layer above the slope. The research here will integrate this flow structure into a complete interior and boundary layer mean circulation synthesis. The findings and products from the proposed work will improve the positioning of Argo profiles in the polar regions, which would allow for more accurate climatological maps and derived quantities. Estimates of meso-scale mixing may serve as a foundation for the development of new parameterization schemes employed in climate models, as well as local and global ocean circulation models in polar regions.
Person Role
Hancock, Cathrine Investigator and contact
Speer, Kevin Co-Investigator
Antarctic Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences Award # 2148517
AMD - DIF Record(s)
Data Management Plan
Product Level:
0 (raw data)
Repository Title (link) Format(s) Status
USAP-DC Under ice trajectories for RAFOS enabled profiling floats in the Weddell Gyre ASCII, Matlab exists
  1. Hancock, C., & Boebel, O. (2024). Improved Acoustic Tracking of RAFOS-Enabled Profiling Floats through the New Software Package artoa4argo. Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology, 41(1), 3–23. (doi:10.1175/jtech-d-23-0020.1)
Platforms and Instruments

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