The impact of Southern Ocean topographic barriers on the ocean circulation and the overlying atmosphere

de Boer, Agatha M.; Hutchinson, David K.; Roquet, Fabien; Sime, Louise C. ORCID:; Burls, Natalie J.; Heuzé, Céline. 2022 The impact of Southern Ocean topographic barriers on the ocean circulation and the overlying atmosphere. Journal of Climate, 35 (18). 5805-5821.

Before downloading, please read NORA policies.
Text (Open Access)
© 2022 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (
[15200442 - Journal of Climate] The Impact of Southern Ocean Topographic Barriers on the Ocean Circulation and the Overlying Atmosphere.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution 4.0.

Download (8MB) | Preview


Southern Ocean bathymetry constrains the path of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC), but the bathymetric influence on the coupled ocean–atmosphere system is poorly understood. Here, we investigate this impact by respectively flattening large topographic barriers around the Kerguelen Plateau, Campbell Plateau, Mid-Atlantic Ridge, and Drake Passage in four simulations in a coupled climate model. The barriers impact both the wind and buoyancy forcing of the ACC transport, which increases by between 4% and 14% when barriers are removed individually and by 56% when all barriers are removed simultaneously. The removal of Kerguelen Plateau bathymetry increases convection south of the plateau and the removal of Drake Passage bathymetry reduces convection upstream in the Ross Sea. When the barriers are removed, zonal flattening of the currents leads to sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies that strongly correlate to precipitation anomalies, with correlation coefficients ranging between r = 0.92 and r = 0.97 in the four experiments. The SST anomalies correlate to the surface winds too in some locations. However, they also generate circumpolar waves of sea level pressure (SLP) anomalies, which induce remote wind speed changes that are unconnected to the underlying SST field. The meridional variability in the wind stress curl contours over the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, the Kerguelen Plateau, and the Campbell Plateau disappears when these barriers are removed, confirming the impact of bathymetry on surface winds. However, bathymetry-induced wind changes are too small to affect the overall wave-3 asymmetry in the Southern Hemisphere westerlies. Removal of Southern Hemisphere orography is also inconsequential to the wave-3 pattern.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 0894-8755
Additional Keywords: Abyssal circulation; Atmosphere-ocean interaction; Currents; Deep convection; Fronts; General circulation models; Momentum; Ocean circulation; Ocean dynamics; Orographic effects; Precipitation; Southern Ocean; Wind stress; Wind stress curl; Topographic effects; Wind
Date made live: 05 Sep 2022 10:46 +0 (UTC)

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item

Document Downloads

Downloads for past 30 days

Downloads per month over past year

More statistics for this item...