EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

The Antilles Current and wind-driven gyre circulation at 26oN

Eleanor Frajka-Williams1, William E. Johns2, Harry L. Bryden3, David A. Smeed1, Aurelie Duchez, and Lisa Holton
Eleanor Frajka-Williams et al.
  • 1National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, United Kingdom (
  • 2University of Miami, Florida.
  • 3University of Southampton, United Kingdom

The Antilles Current is a narrow, northward flowing boundary current in the western Atlantic just east of the Bahamas. Its role in the larger scale circulation has been debated: alternately thought to be part of the western boundary closure of the gyre circulation or the northward flowing limb of the meridional overturning circulation (MOC). From 19 years of moored current meter observations (1987--1991, 2004--2018), we define the strength of the Antilles Current by the net transport between the Bahamas and 76.5°W (spanning about 45 km zonally) and in the thermocline (0–1000 m). We find a mean northward transport of 3.5 Sv, substantial interannual variability, and no discernable trend since 1987. The interannual variability of the AC transport is independent of the variability of the Florida Current (the Gulf Stream through the Florida Straits). Instead, the Antilles Current contributes to the interannual variability of the MOC at 26°N, while the trend in the strength of the gyre circulation (defined as the transbasin thermocline transport minus the AC) is responsible for the trend in the MOC. In particular, the 2009/10 slowdown of the MOC resulted from a weaker northward AC transport, rather than an intensified gyre transport. Using the recent 14 years of in situ transport records, we compare the interannual variability of the gyre circulation to that of wind stress curl forcing via a Sverdrup transport calculation, identifying a potential role for wind stress curl (WSC) forcing at 26°N with a ~2 year lag until 2016.  From 2016, the predicted gyre circulation using WSC diverges from the measured gyre strength.

How to cite: Frajka-Williams, E., Johns, W. E., Bryden, H. L., Smeed, D. A., Duchez, A., and Holton, L.: The Antilles Current and wind-driven gyre circulation at 26oN, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-11132,, 2021.


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