Tropical Atlantic climate: ocean processes, air-sea interactions, remote impacts, and climate change

Observations and model simulations illustrate significant ocean variability and associated air-sea interactions in the tropical Atlantic basin from daily-to-decadal time scales. This session is devoted to the understanding of ocean dynamics in the tropical and subtropical Atlantic Ocean, its interaction with the overlying atmosphere from the equator to the mid-latitudes and its climate impacts on adjacent to remote areas.
Relevant processes in the ocean include upper and deep ocean circulation, eddies, tropical instability waves, warm pools, cold tongues and eastern boundary upwellings. We are interested in air-sea interactions related to both the seasonal cycle and the development of modes of variability from local to basin scale (e.g. the Meridional Mode, the Atlantic Niño, and the Benguela Niño). We welcome studies on wind variations related to the development of these modes, as well as studies on high-frequency events, such as marine heat waves, the Madden-Julian Oscillation, tropical cyclones and convective systems. Furthermore, we seek studies on climate change in the region, and also of the climatic impacts of change and variability on marine ecosystems. Finally, we are also interested in contributions examining the causes and impacts of systematic model errors in simulating the local to regional Atlantic climate.
Studies based on direct observations, reanalysis, reconstructions as well as model simulations are welcome.

Co-organized by AS2/CL4
Convener: Marta Martín-ReyECSECS | Co-conveners: Marie-Lou BacheleryECSECS, Peter Brandt, Noel Keenlyside, Alban Lazar
vPICO presentations
| Tue, 27 Apr, 09:00–12:30 (CEST)

vPICO presentations: Tue, 27 Apr

Chairpersons: Peter Brandt, Alban Lazar
Mesoscale-to-Regional variability
Daniel Rudloff, Johannes Karstensen, Tim Fischer, Florian Schütte, Arne Bendinger, Sabrina Speich, Pierre L'Hegaret, Xavier Carton, Gilles Reverdin, Rémi Laxenaire, and Jonathan Gula

In this study, we investigate the mesoscale flow field and how it enables energy to propagate vertically in form of near-inertial waves. As part of the EURAC4A-OA campaign the research vessels RV Maria S. Merian and NO L’Atalante simultaneously surveyed mesoscale eddy fronts in the western tropical North Atlantic. From velocity profile data, measured by a shipboard Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (sADCP), we reconstruct eddies in the upper 1000m of the surveyed area, by fitting a Rankine Vortex model. The model derives an idealized velocity structure of the eddy as well as the location of its centre. Multiple occurrences of stacked eddies are identified and often surrounded by current shear structures associated with near-inertial waves. Using data from ship sections, where both research vessels operated less than 1nm apart, the vertical component of the relative vorticity (zeta) is calculated using different methods (single ship, two ships)[Shcherbina et al. 2013]. It is found that in particular zeta outside of the eddy cores is sensitive to the way the vorticity is calculated and may even change sign. Furthermore, the resulting zeta sections and its impact on the ability of near-inertial waves propagating vertically below the mixed layer is discussed.

How to cite: Rudloff, D., Karstensen, J., Fischer, T., Schütte, F., Bendinger, A., Speich, S., L'Hegaret, P., Carton, X., Reverdin, G., Laxenaire, R., and Gula, J.: Observations of vertical propagation of near-inertial Waves in a complex vorticity field during the EURAC4A-OA campaign in the tropical western North Atlantic, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-15402, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-15402, 2021.

Pierre L'Hégaret, Sabrina Speich, Yanxu Chen, Gaston Manta, Léa Olivier, Gilles Reverdin, Mathieu Poupon, Florian Schütte, Johannes Karstensen, Xavier Carton, Rémi Laxenaire, Dongxiao Zhang, and Gregory Foltz

In January-February 2020, the EUREC4A-OA/ATOMIC experiment took place in the Northwest Tropical Atlantic Ocean with the overall objective of understanding the role of fine scale processes in the internal ocean dynamics and air-sea interaction. Four oceanographic vessels, the French Atalante, German Maria S Merian and Meteor, and the American Ron Brown, closely coordinated with air-borne observations and autonomous ocean platforms (gliders, saildrones, and drifters) to simultaneously measure the ocean and atmosphere east of the island of Barbados and the coast of Guyana in the western Tropical Atlantic. A whole battery of instruments measuring the thermohaline and dynamic characteristics of the region was launched. The fixed CTD stations, reaching great depths while measuring salinity, temperature, and oxygen concentrations, serve as a reference to calibrate and validate other devices, in particular, shallower uCTD, TSG, and MVP, acquired during ship transits, and autonomous gliders and saidrones. Combined, these datasets increase the horizontal resolution and thus the description of structures ranging from mesoscale to fine scale.

The Northwest Tropical Atlantic Ocean is a dynamical region filled with mesoscale eddies of different origins and transporting various water masses across the region. These eddies have rich and diverse characteristics ranging from shallow cyclonic and anticyclonic eddies to the deep reaching North Brazil Current (NBC) Rings. On the surface, down to 200 m depth, the signatures of shallow cyclones and anticyclones (NBC rings) were measured. The shallow mesoscale eddies, with core centered around a density of 25.5 kg m-3, advect highly saline and warm waters, with low oxygen concentrations compared to the surrounding water masses. Below, evolving at density around 26.7 kg m-3, thick anticyclones were observed, characterized by low temperature and salinity but with high values of oxygen, indicative of a South Atlantic origin. One was observed drifting slowly northward and another one at the NBC retroflection. Similarly, mesoscale cyclonic eddies were also observed both at the surface and at depth. Surface and subsurface eddies are not aligned vertically and they seem to evolve independently. 

The large number and diversity (ship-mounted or autonomous) of observing platforms implemented in the project made made it possible to innovatively sample the upper-ocean frontal scales and stratification. It has been found that the interaction between the particularly fresh waters from the Amazon River, flowing northward along the shelf-break, and NBC rings create a rich variety of submesoscale fronts and a strong barrier layer, leading to interleaving. With the high vertical and horizontal resolutions, we quantify the layering and mixing processes at play.

How to cite: L'Hégaret, P., Speich, S., Chen, Y., Manta, G., Olivier, L., Reverdin, G., Poupon, M., Schütte, F., Karstensen, J., Carton, X., Laxenaire, R., Zhang, D., and Foltz, G.: EUREC4A-OA/ATOMIC experiment  : Themohaline and dynamical descriptions of mesoscale and submesoscale structures of the Northwest Tropical Atlantic Ocean, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-10991, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-10991, 2021.

Elizabeth Siddle, Karen J. Heywood, Ben Webber, and Peter Bromley

The Tropical North Atlantic region is a key driver of climate variability and extreme weather events, driven largely by heat and momentum exchanges across the air-sea boundary. Observations of these fluxes by satellites and vessels are limited in their spatial resolution and length of time series respectively. In-situ samples across long time periods are needed, which can be obtained through developing a network of in-situ flux measurement platforms. UEA and AutoNaut have worked to address this challenge with the deployment of Caravela - an AutoNaut uncrewed surface vessel. Caravela is a wave and solar powered autonomous vessel, equipped with meteorological and oceanographic sensors and the ability to transport a Seaglider. Caravela successfully completed its first scientific deployment as part of the Eurec4a campaign. 

Eurec4a ran from January—March 2020 from Barbados, investigating climate change feedback in the Tropical North Atlantic and the role of cloud systems. Caravela spent 11 days of her 33-day deployment occupying a 10 km square, co-located with other Eurec4a platforms to gather in-situ surface data on heat and momentum exchange. Preliminary results from Caravela give us an insight into heat exchange at the surface, downwelling radiation and wind conditions during deployment. There is an identifiable diurnal cycle during the deployment, particularly visible in temperature data, which will feed into our understanding of changes in fluxes at a local scale. Profiling ocean gliders at the study site allow us to determine a time series of upper ocean heat content changes. These data, alongside that collected by other platforms during Eurec4a, should enable an upper ocean heat budget to be calculated at Caravela’s study site. 

How to cite: Siddle, E., Heywood, K. J., Webber, B., and Bromley, P.: Using a novel combination of autonomous vehicles for air-sea interaction studies: Results from the Eurec4a campaign , EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-8901, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-8901, 2021.

Callum Rollo, Karen J. Heywood, and Rob A. Hall

During the EUREC4A field campaign in 2020, three ocean gliders were deployed to the tropical North Atlantic, upwind of Barbados. We present preliminary results from this three week deployment, focusing on the finescale temperature and salinity variability below the pycnocline.

The three gliders completed a total of 580 dive cycles to 750 m in virtual mooring and bowtie patterns around a 10 km square. A research vessel occupied a 250 km meridional transect 2 km east of the glider square. The gliders and research vessel observed staircases in temperature and salinity from 300 m to 500 m depth, with a typical vertical scale of 50 m and temperature steps of 0.5 to 1.0 C. The staircase structure was observed by all three gliders’ temperature/salinity sensors and the research vessel's main CTD. The finescale (O 10 cm) vertical structure of the steps, was clearly resolved by a FP07 fast thermistor mounted on one of the gliders. The finescale layers of uniform temperature appear also to be uniform in salinity. These large stairsteps persisted for an average of two days before eroding, and were observed to be spatially coherent over at least 10 km. Smaller stairstep structures at the base of the pycnocline (O 10 m, 0.2 C) persisted throughout the observational period.

Halfway through the deployment, a density-compensated front moving through the region increased temperature at 400 m by 2 C. Simultaneous observations from the three gliders and research vessel enabled analysis of the evolution of this structure. The temperature change was greatest at 400 m, tapering to the limit of detectability at 200 m and 600 m. Along the edge of the front on the warm side, staircase structures were observed. These structures persisted for over a week before eroding.

How to cite: Rollo, C., Heywood, K. J., and Hall, R. A.: Coherent finescale temperature structures characterised at high resolution by a fast thermistor on an ocean glider, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-863, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-863, 2021.

Tim Fischer, Johannes Karstensen, Marcus Dengler, and Arne Bendinger

During the collaborative project "Role of Eddies in the Carbon Pump of Eastern Boundary 

Upwelling Systems" (REEBUS), that took place in the eastern tropical North Atlantic in 2019, 

three cyclonic mesoscale eddies were intensely surveyed by ship and autonomous systems. The 

three eddies were located at different distances to the coast, the most intense of them 

(vorticity about 0.5 times f) was found in lee of the Cabo Verdian island of Fogo. Here we 

present the reconstruction of the 3-D structure for the three eddies from ship ADCP and 

hydrographic sections. Divergence estimates suggest the existence of a downwelling cell in the 

center of all three eddies. This cell extends from below the thermocline down to some hundred 

meters, at a diameter of about 10 nautical miles. Surface signatures of the eddies indicate 

elliptic and oscillating behavior which is further investigated using the interior ocean data. 

In this work we also explore the limitations of section-based ocean mesoscale eddy 


How to cite: Fischer, T., Karstensen, J., Dengler, M., and Bendinger, A.: Multiplatform observation of cyclonic eddies during the REEBUS experiment, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-6537, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-6537, 2021.

Fraser Goldsworth, David Marshall, and Helen Johnson

The upper limb of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation draws waters with negative potential vorticity from the southern hemisphere into the northern hemisphere. The North Brazil Current is one of the cross-equatorial pathways in which this occurs. It is known that upon crossing the equator fluid parcels within this current must modify their potential vorticity, to render them stable to symmetric (inertial) instability and to merge smoothly with the ocean interior.

A hierarchy of models predict the excitement of inertial instability in cross-equatorial flows dynamically similar to the North Brazil Current. A linear stability analysis of a barotropic flow is able to predict the structure and growth rate of the instability. A two-dimensional numerical model verifies these predictions and shows how the instability is able to stabilise unstable potential vorticity configurations. A simplified three-dimensional model demonstrates how large anti-cyclonic rings spun up at the equator entrain waters with negative PV, before the rings themselves become inertially unstable. The high-resolution, observationally constrained, MITgcm LLC4320 model is probed for signs of this instability process.

How to cite: Goldsworth, F., Marshall, D., and Johnson, H.: Symmetric (inertial) instability in cross-equatorial western boundary currents, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-1159, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-1159, 2021.

Mia Sophie Specht, Johann Jungclaus, and Jürgen Bader

Tropical instability waves (TIWs) near the ocean surface are present in all tropical oceans and are known to be important for air-sea interactions and regional climate variability. Recent studies based on observations in the Pacific Ocean found that apart from TIWs at the surface, there also exist subsurface TIWs (subTIWs) which can alter vertical mixing. To date, most studies have focused on TIW related dynamics near the ocean surface. However, to properly assess vertical mixing in the upper ocean, improved understanding of the vertical structure of TIWs and the influence of subTIWs is needed. In this study, we show subTIW presence in the Atlantic Ocean for the first time using mooring observations.Further, we characterize subTIWs in the tropical Atlantic Ocean with a special focus on subTIW spatial and temporal variability and their effect on mixing. For this, data covering almost two decades are used that were generated from a comprehensive, global, high-resolution ocean model forced by the reanalysis ERA5. We find subTIWs between 40 m depth and the thermocline in both model and observations and unlike TIWs, subTIWs are frequently active both north and south of the Equator. The results of our study suggest that subTIWs induce a multi-layer shear structure which has the potential to destabilize the mean flow and thereby cause mixing. These effects are strongest north of the Equator where TIWs and subTIWs act simultaneously, implying possible TIW/subTIW interactions. We conclude that subTIWs are a feature of the tropical Atlantic Ocean with regionally varying implications for vertical mixing and heat fluxes. In addition, subTIWs differ from TIWs in their temporal and regional occurrences Therefore, subTIWs should be considered in future assessments of upper ocean dynamics, particularly in subTIW dominated regions.

How to cite: Specht, M. S., Jungclaus, J., and Bader, J.: Subsurface Tropical Instability Waves in the Atlantic Ocean in Model and Observations , EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-53, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-53, 2020.

Zhi Zeng, Peter Brandt, Kevin Lamb, Richard Greatbatch, Marcus Dengler, Martin Claus, and Xueen Chen

In austral winter, biological productivity at the Angolan shelf reaches its maximum. The alongshore winds, however, reach their seasonal minimum suggesting that processes other than local wind-driven upwelling contribute to near-coastal cooling and upward nutrient supply, one possibility being mixing induced by internal tides (ITs). Here, we apply a three-dimensional ocean model to simulate the generation, propagation and dissipation of ITs at the Angolan continental slope and shelf. Model results are validated against moored acoustic Doppler current profiler and other observations. Simulated ITs are mainly generated in regions with a critical/supercritical slope typically between the 200- and 500-m isobaths. Mixing induced by ITs is found to be strongest close to the coast and gradually decreases offshore thereby contributing to the establishment of cross-shore temperature gradients. The available seasonal coverage of hydrographic data is used to design simulations to investigate the influence of seasonally varying stratification characterized by low stratification in austral winter and high stratification in austral summer. The results show that IT characteristics, such as their wavelengths, sea surface convergence patterns and baroclinic structure, have substantial seasonal variations and additionally strong spatial inhomogeneities. However, seasonal variations in the spatially-averaged generation, onshore flux and dissipation of IT energy are weak. By evaluating the change of potential energy, it is shown, nevertheless, that mixing due to ITs is more effective during austral winter. We argue this is because the weaker background stratification in austral winter than in austral summer acts as a preconditioning for IT mixing.

How to cite: Zeng, Z., Brandt, P., Lamb, K., Greatbatch, R., Dengler, M., Claus, M., and Chen, X.: Three Dimensional Numerical Simulations of Internal Tides in the Angolan Upwelling Region, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-1445, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-1445, 2021.

Florian Schütte, Ivy Frenger, Kristin Burmeister, Sabrina Speich, and Johannes Karstensen

In ocean research, mesoscale eddies typically are detected through surface signatures based on satellite data. The assumption is that most eddies are surface intensified and have a vertical structure consistent with a surface intensified mode. However, in-situ eddy observations, especially in the tropical oceans, showed that the vertical eddy structure is often more complex than previously assumed (higher baroclinic modes), and a diverse subsurface eddy field is present, which does not show any surface signatures at all. Our objective here is a first step towards a quantification of the occurrence of subsurface relative to surface eddies. To do this, we use an actively eddying model to compare the subsurface eddy field to its surface signatures in order to be able to estimate which vertical eddy structures prevail and how much of the eddy field is hidden in the subsurface. In addition, the model results are compared against an unprecedented assemblage of observations of subsurface eddies in the tropical oceans. In a first step we focus on eddies in the model that are detectable at the surface for more than 120 days. We found that around 60 % of the detected eddies have a vertical structure associated with a surface intensified mode as previously assumed which are characterized by a strong surface signature. Around 40 % of the eddy field have a vertical structure associated to a higher baroclinic mode. They are often called “intrathermocline” eddies and are characterized by a rather weak surface signature. In a second step we track subsurface eddies (lifetime > 120 days) in the model by identifying density layer thickness anomalies and connect them with possible surface signatures. Around 30 % of the total eddy field of the model, are hidden in the subsurface with no detectable surface signature. In conclusion, our results show that subsurface eddies form a substantial contribution to the total eddy field. Consequently it is difficult to estimate the impact of the eddy field on the ocean when only working with surface based satellite data.

How to cite: Schütte, F., Frenger, I., Burmeister, K., Speich, S., and Karstensen, J.: Does the interior of the ocean hide a major part of the eddy field?, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-8880, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-8880, 2021.

Habib Micaël Aguedjou, Alexis Chaigneau, Isabelle Dadou, Yves Morel, Cori Pegliasco, Casimir Y. Da-Allada, and Ezinvi Baloïtcha

Potential vorticity (PV) is a key parameter to analyze the generation and dynamics of mesoscale eddies. Numerical studies have shown how adiabatic (displacement of particles within a background gradient of PV) and diabatic (diapycnal mixing and friction) processes can be involved in the generation of localized PV anomalies and vortices. Such processes are however difficult to evaluate in the ocean because PV is difficult to evaluate at mesoscale. In this study, we argue that qualitative analysis can be done, based on the link between PV anomalies and isopycnal temperature/salinity anomalies (Ɵ’/S’). Indeed, in the ocean, eddies created by diapycnal mixing or isopycnal advection of water-masses, are associated with PV anomalies and significant isopycnal Ɵ’/S’. In contrast, eddies created by friction are associated with PV anomalies but without isopycnal Ɵ’/S’. In this study, based on 18 years of satellite altimetry data and vertical Ɵ/S profiles acquired by Argo floats, we analyze the isopycnal Ɵ’/S’ within new-born eddies in the tropical Atlantic Ocean (TAO) and discuss the possible mechanisms involved in their generation. Our results show that on density-coordinates system, both anticyclonic (AEs) and cyclonic (CEs) eddies can exhibit positive, negative, or non-significant Ɵ’/S’. Almost half of the sampled eddies do not have significant Ɵ’/S’ at their generation site, indicating that frictional effects probably play a significant role in the generation of their PV anomalies. The other half of eddies, likely generated by diapycnal mixing or isopycnal advection, exhibits significant positive or negative anomalies with typical Ɵ’ of ±0.5°C. More than 70% of these significant eddies are subsurface-intensified, having their cores below the seasonal pycnocline. Refined analyses of the vertical structure of new-born eddies in three selected subregions of the TAO where the strongest anomalies were observed, show the dominance of cold (warm, respectively) subsurface AEs (CEs) likely due to isopycnal advection of large scale PV and temperature.

How to cite: Aguedjou, H. M., Chaigneau, A., Dadou, I., Morel, Y., Pegliasco, C., Da-Allada, C. Y., and Baloïtcha, E.: What can we learn from observed temperature and salinity isopycnal anomalies at eddy generation sites?  Application in the Tropical Atlantic Ocean., EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-9472, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-9472, 2021.

Fernand Assene, Yves Morel, Audrey Delpech, Micael Aguedjou, Julien Jouanno, Sophie Cravatte, Frédéric Marin, Claire Ménesguen, Alexis Chaigneau, Isabelle Dadou, Gael Alory, Ryan Holmes, Bernard Bourlès, and Ariane Koch-Larrouy

We analyse the results from a numerical model at high resolution. We focus on the formation and maintenance of subsurface equatorial currents in the Gulf of Guinea and we base our analysis on the evolution of potential vorticity (PV). We highlight the link between submesoscale processes (involving mixing, friction and filamentation), mesoscale vortices and the mean currents in the area. In the simulation, eastward currents, the South and North Equatorial Undercurrents (SEUC and NEUC respectively) and the Guinea Undercurrent (GUC), are shown to be linked to the westward currents located equatorward. We show that east of 20W, both westward and eastward currents are associated with the spreading of PV tongues by mesoscale vortices. The Equatorial Undercurrent (EUC) brings salty waters into the Gulf of Guinea. Mixing diffuses the salty anomaly downward. Meridional advection, mixing and friction are involved in the formation of fluid parcel swith PV anomalies in the lower part and below the pycnocline, north and south of the EUC, in the Gulf of Guinea. These parcels gradually merge and vertically align, forming nonlinear anticyclonic vortices that propagate westward, spreading and horizontally mixing their PV content by stirring filamentation and diffusion, up to 20W. When averaged over time, this creates regions of nearly homogeneous PV within zonal bands between 1.5 and 5S or N. This mean PV field is associated with westward and eastward zonal jets flanking the EUC with the homogeneous PV tongues corresponding to the westward currents, and the strong PV gradient regions at their edges corresponding to the eastward currents. Mesoscale vortices strongly modulate the mean fields explaining the high spatial and temporal variability of the jets.

How to cite: Assene, F., Morel, Y., Delpech, A., Aguedjou, M., Jouanno, J., Cravatte, S., Marin, F., Ménesguen, C., Chaigneau, A., Dadou, I., Alory, G., Holmes, R., Bourlès, B., and Koch-Larrouy, A.: From Mixing to the Large Scale Circulation: How the Inverse Cascade Is Involved in the Formation of the Subsurface Currents in the Gulf of Guinea., EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-5371, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-5371, 2021.

Franz Philip Tuchen, Joke F. Lübbecke, Peter Brandt, and Yao Fu

The shallow meridional overturning cells of the Atlantic Ocean, the subtropical cells (STCs), consist of poleward Ekman transport at the surface, subduction in the subtropics, equatorward flow at thermocline level and upwelling along the equator and at the eastern boundary. In this study, we provide the first observational estimate of transport variability associated with the horizontal branches of the Atlantic STCs in both hemispheres based on Argo float data and supplemented by reanalysis products.

Thermocline layer transport convergence and surface layer transport divergence between 10°N and 10°S are dominated by seasonal variability. Meridional thermocline layer transport anomalies at the western boundary and in the interior basin are anti-correlated and partially compensate each other at all resolved time scales. It is suggested that the seesaw-like relation is forced by the large-scale off-equatorial wind stress changes through low-baroclinic-mode Rossby wave adjustment. We further show that anomalies of the thermocline layer interior transport convergence modulate sea surface temperature (SST) variability in the upwelling regions along the equator and at the eastern boundary at time scales longer than 5 years. Phases of weaker (stronger) interior transport are associated with phases of higher (lower) equatorial SST. At these time scales, STC transport variability is forced by off-equatorial wind stress changes, especially by those in the southern hemisphere. At shorter time scales, equatorial SST anomalies are, instead, mainly forced by local changes of zonal wind stress.

How to cite: Tuchen, F. P., Lübbecke, J. F., Brandt, P., and Fu, Y.: Observed Transport Variability of the Atlantic Subtropical Cells and Their Connection to Tropical Sea Surface Temperature Variability, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-1267, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-1267, 2021.

Yao Fu, Peter Brandt, Franz Philip Tuchen, Joke F. Lübbecke, and Chunzai Wang

The Atlantic Subtropical Cells (STCs) consist primarily of poleward Ekman divergence in the surface layer, subduction in the subtropics, and equatorward convergence in the thermocline that largely compensates the surface Ekman divergence through equatorial upwelling. As a result, the STCs play an important role in connecting the tropical and subtropical Atlantic Ocean, in terms of heat, freshwater, oxygen, and nutrients transports. However, their representation in state-of-the-art coupled models has not been systematically evaluated so far. In this study, we investigate the performance of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 6 (CMIP6) models in simulating the Atlantic STCs. Comparing model results with observations, we first present the simulated mean state with respect to ensembles of the key components participating in the STC loop, i.e., the meridional Ekman and geostrophic flow at 10°N and 10°S, and the Equatorial Undercurrent (EUC) at 23°W. We then examine the inter-model spread and the relationships between these key components. We find that there is a general weak bias in the Southern Hemispheric ensemble Ekman transports and mixed-layer geostrophic transports in comparison to the observations. The inter-model spread of mean EUC strengths are primarily associated with the intensity of the mean wind stress in the tropical South Atlantic among the models. Since the poleward Ekman transports induced by the trade winds are regarded as the driver of the STC loop, our results point out the necessity to improve skills of coupled models to simulate the Southern Hemisphere atmospheric forcing in driving the Atlantic STCs.

How to cite: Fu, Y., Brandt, P., Tuchen, F. P., Lübbecke, J. F., and Wang, C.: ­­Mean Atlantic Subtropical Cells in the CMIP6 models, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-1882, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-1882, 2021.

Swantje Bastin, Martin Claus, Peter Brandt, and Richard J. Greatbatch

Equatorial deep jets (EDJ) are strong zonal currents in the deep tropical oceans that alternate in direction with depth and
time. In the Atlantic below the thermocline, they are the dominant variability on interannual timescales. They propagate
energy upwards and are suggested to impact surface climate variables on interannual timescales. They are also
important for the distribution of tracer in the mid-depth tropical ocean, for example by enhanced oxygen ventilation of
the eastern deep oxygen minimum zones, both through advection by the EDJ themselves and because the EDJ
nonlinearly drive time mean flow. Observations of equatorial deep jets are available but scarce, given the EDJs’ location
at depth and their long periodicity of several years. In the last few years, Argo floats have added a significant amount of
measurements at intermediate depth. We therefore perfomed a new EDJ scale analysis based on Argo float
measurements, the results of which we show here. At 1000 m depth, very weak or no EDJ signals can be detected in the
Indian and Pacific Oceans. In the Atlantic, however, the EDJ signal is strong at 1000 m depth, allowing us to obtain
good estimates of their frequency, amplitude, phase, zonal wavelength, and meridional structure.

How to cite: Bastin, S., Claus, M., Brandt, P., and Greatbatch, R. J.: Atlantic equatorial deep jets in Argo float data, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-2285, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-2285, 2021.

Ignasi Vallès Casanova, Josep Lluís Pelegrí, Marta Martín Rey, Erik van Sebille, and Anna Olivé Abelló

The northward flow in the western tropical Atlantic Ocean is carried mainly by North Brazil Current (NBC), hence playing a major role in the cross-equatorial exchange of properties. As thermocline waters reach the equator, they largely retroflect to feed the Equatorial Undercurrent (EUC), a quasi-permanent zonal current that brings salty and highly-oxygenated waters to the eastern side of the basin. This retroflection system is governed by the zonal pressure gradient, which is driven by the trade winds. Hence, the wind fluctuations represent the major source of variability at seasonal and interannual scales. However, at shorter time scales, the variability of the retroflection system may be associated with both interior and coastal waves. In the present study we describe the water mass balance at the NBC-EUC retroflection area using a combination of shipboard observations and numerical reanalysis. The observations, from an oceanographic campaign in April 2010, provide a synoptic view of the retroflection region and allow assessing the goodness of the numerical data. We then use the ocean reanalysis GLORYS2v4 to analyse the temporal variability of this region, from intra-seasonal to seasonal scales, and use Lagrangian simulations to identify the principal water mass pathways feeding the retroflection. We find a substantial seasonal cycle in the boundary and interior (southern and northern) origins of those waters that feed the EUC. Our results also show the propagation of high-frequency waves (16-30 days) along the coast from the south, probably as coastal trapped waves, while waves with 30-60 days period come from the northern hemisphere, probably as westward Rossby waves reach the coast of America and follow south as Kelvin waves. These short-term fluctuations have a high impact on the water mass pathways that feed the EUC and the retroflection structure itself.

How to cite: Vallès Casanova, I., Pelegrí, J. L., Martín Rey, M., van Sebille, E., and Olivé Abelló, A.: From weekly to seasonal variability of the North Brazil - Equatorial Undercurrent retroflection, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-13045, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-13045, 2021.

Fabrice Hernandez, Djoirka M. Dimoune, Florence Birol, Fabien Leger, and Moacyr Araujo
Satellite altimetry offers a mesoscale description of the ocean surface circulation worldwide since 1993. The Mercator Océan GLORYS12 reanalysis complement this description with a consistent 3-dimensional estimation of ocean physical parameters over the same period, with a reliability supported by the assimilation of available in-situ and satellite data. This information is used to revisit the ocean circulation description over the West Tropical Atlantic and in particular the seasonal and interannual variability of the western boundary current system from 20°S to 20°N connected to the tropical Atlantic basin scale circulation. PIRATA data since 2000 are used to validate the ocean reanalysis, and complement the description at depth of the main currents. The variability pattern and main characteristics of the North Brazil Undercurrent, the North Brazil Current and its Retroflection (NBCR), and the connections with the Equatorial Undercurrents, the South and North Equatorial Currents (SEC/NEC) and CounterCurrents (NECC) show seasonal changes. Both of their main pattern and the associated mesoscale field are dominated by the seasonal regimes. This circulation is linked to the tropical Atlantic Climate variability and the coupled pattern of wind and ocean dynamics. In particular, we show that the interannual variability of NECC, depending on the NBCR and SEC/NEC water transport exhibits different branches in relation with Tropical Atlantic Zonal and Meridional Mode of variability.

How to cite: Hernandez, F., Dimoune, D. M., Birol, F., Leger, F., and Araujo, M.: New insight of the West Tropical Atlantic Circulation based on 25 years of satellite altimetry, PIRATA data and GLORYS ocean reanalysis, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-12222, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-12222, 2021.

Rebecca Hummels, Marcus Dengler, Willi Rath, Gregory R. Foltz, Florian Schütte, Tim Fischer, and Peter Brandt

The direct response of the tropical mixed layer to near-inertial waves (NIWs) has only rarely been observed. Here, we present upper-ocean turbulence data that provide evidence for a strongly elevated vertical diffusive heat flux across the base of the mixed layer in the presence of a NIW, thereby cooling the mixed layer at a rate of 244 Wm−2 over the 20 h of continuous measurements. We investigate the seasonal cycle of strong NIW events and find that despite their local intermittent nature, they occur preferentially during boreal summer, presumably associated with the passage of atmospheric African Easterly Waves. We illustrate the impact of these rare but intense NIW induced mixing events on the mixed layer heat balance, highlight their contribution to the seasonal evolution of sea surface temperature, and discuss their potential impact on biological productivity in the tropical North Atlantic.

How to cite: Hummels, R., Dengler, M., Rath, W., Foltz, G. R., Schütte, F., Fischer, T., and Brandt, P.: Surface cooling caused by rare but intense near-inertial wave induced mixing in the tropical Atlantic, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-9777, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-9777, 2021.

Jorge López-Parages, Pierre-Amaël Auger, Belén Rodríguez-Fonseca, Noel Keenlyside, Carlo Gaetan, Angelo Rubino, Maeregu Woldeyes Arisido, and Timothée Brochier

The El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) produces global marine environment conditions that can cause changes in abundance and distribution of distant fish populations worldwide. Understanding mechanisms acting locally on fish population dynamics is crucial to develop forecast skill useful for fisheries management. The present work addresses the role played by ENSO on the round sardinella population biomass and distribution in the central-southern portion of the Canary Current Upwelling System (CCUS). A combined physical-biogeochemical framework is used to understand the climate influence on the hydrodynamical conditions in the study area. Then, an evolutionary individual-based model is used to simulate the round sardinella spatio-temporal biomass variability. According to model experiments, anomalous oceanographic conditions forced by El Niño along the African coast cause anomalies in the latitudinal migration pattern of the species. A robust anomalous increase and decrease of the simulated round sardinella biomass is identified in winter off the Cape Blanc and the Saharan coast region, respectively, in response to El Niño variations. The resultant anomalous pattern is an alteration of the normal migration between the Saharan and the Mauritanian waters. It is primarily explained by the mod- ulating role that El Niño exerts on the currents off Cape Blanc, modifying therefore the normal migration of round sardinella in the search of acceptable temperature conditions. This climate signature can be potentially predicted up to six months in advance based on El Niño conditions in the Pacific.

How to cite: López-Parages, J., Auger, P.-A., Rodríguez-Fonseca, B., Keenlyside, N., Gaetan, C., Rubino, A., Arisido, M. W., and Brochier, T.: El Niño as a predictor of round sardinella distribution along the northwest African coast, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-9732, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-9732, 2021.

Mohammad Hadi Bordbar, Volker Mohrholz, and Martin Schmidt

Spatial and temporal variations of nutrient-rich upwelled water across the major eastern boundary upwelling systems are primarily controlled by the surface atmospheric flow with different, and sometimes contrasting, impacts on coastal and open-ocean upwelling systems. Here, concurrently measured wind-fields, satellite-derived Chlorophyll-a concentration along with a state-of-the-art ocean model simulation spanning 2008-2018 are used to investigate the connection between coastal and offshore physical drivers of the Benguela Upwelling System (BUS). Our results indicate that the spatial structure of long-term mean upwelling derived from Ekman theory and the numerical model are fairly consistent across the entire BUS and closely followed by the Chlorophyll-a pattern. The variability of the upwelling from the Ekman theory is proportionally diminished with offshore distance, whereas different and sometimes opposite structures are revealed in the model-derived upwelling. Our result suggests the presence of sub-mesoscale activity (i.e. filaments and eddies) across the entire BUS with a large modulating effect on the wind-stress-curl-driven upwelling off Lüderitz and Walvis Bay. In Kunene and Cape Frio upwelling cells, located in the northern sector of the BUS, the coastal upwelling and open-ocean upwelling frequently alternate each other, whereas they are modulated by the annual cycle and mostly in phase off Walvis Bay. Such a phase relationship appears to be strongly seasonal dependent off Lüderitz and across the southern BUS. Thus, our findings suggest this relationship is far more complex than currently thought and seems to be sensitive to climate changes with short- and far-reaching consequences for this vulnerable marine-ecosystem.

How to cite: Bordbar, M. H., Mohrholz, V., and Schmidt, M.: On the connection between coastal Ekman upwelling and wind-stress-curl-driven upwelling off the southwest African coasts, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-12206, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-12206, 2021.

Adama Sylla, Emilia Sanchez Gomez, Jorge Lopes Parages, and Juliette Mignot

The oceanic region located off the of the Iberian Peninsula at 43°N to south of Senegal at about 10°N, coasts is one of the most productive in the world in terms of marine ecosystems. This is due to the presence of the Canary Upwelling System (CUS). This upwelling region is separated into two distinct areas: the Iberian coast and the Northwest African coast. Improving our knowledge of the functioning and long term changes in the CUS is of crucial importance, since the much of the food resources and economy of neighboring countries greatly depends on its characteristics. Most of research efforts aimed at the understanding of the functioning of the CUS and its seasonal to long term variations, are based on observations and regional models operating at very high resolution. However, observational datasets based on satellite products, which are suitable to study upwelling systems, cover short periods of time, which does not allow for a robust estimate of long-term variations (i.e. climate change) of the upwellings and the associated mechanisms. The use of very high-resolution regional ocean models leads to a correct representation of the physical mechanisms associated to the upwellings, but the numerical experiments entail an important computational cost, which also limits the study of long-term changes. Standard coupled ocean-atmosphere models, such as those used in the international exercises like Coupled Model Experiment Phase (CMIP), provide an interesting alternative to study decadal to long-term changes in the upwellings. Recently, studies based on coupled models, focusing on the response of the upwellings to climate change, have received increasing attention. However, these studies show contradictory results on the question whether coastal upwelling will be more intense or weak in the next decades. One of the reasons for this uncertainty is the low resolution of climate models, making it difficult to properly resolve coastal zone processes.

The main goal of this study is to evaluate the ability of an ensemble of global coupled models in simulating the properties of the CUS (seasonal cycle, intensity and thermal signatures). The numerical experiments used here were performed within the H2020 PRIMAVERA European project, which is part of the HighResMIP initiative at European level. We will use pairs of models operating at diverse nominal resolutions under present-day climate conditions. Our objective will be to study the impact of model resolution in the representation of the CUS.


How to cite: Sylla, A., Gomez, E. S., Parages, J. L., and Mignot, J.: Impact of higher spatial resolution on the representation of Canary upwelling system, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-15967, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-15967, 2021.

Badara Sané, Alban Lazar, and Malick Wade

The impact of intra-seasonal coastally trapped waves on SST in the Canary upwelling system is studied in satellite estimates of sea surface height, wind, and temperature, using a composite analysis of propagating upwelling and downwelling events. We focus on Spring, the season of strongest SST variability at this frequency. The results obtained show that the average wave reaches an amplitude at sea level of +/- 2 cm and is associated with an SST signal of +/-0.4 °C in the vicinity of the upwelling front, located off Senegal. Strikingly, this composite wave is reinforced by a constructive meridional wind anomaly when it reaches the upwelling front, the wind signal is likely as important as the wave in terms of SST impacts. We discuss the possible cause of this synchronicity in terms of basin-scale atmosphere and ocean waves.
- Impact
- Coastal Kelvin waves
- Intra-seasonal
- Boundary upwelling systems
- Composite analysis of spring
- Tropical Atlantic

How to cite: Sané, B., Lazar, A., and Wade, M.: Impact of intra-seasonal coastal Kelvin waves on SST in the Canary upwelling system: composite analysis in Spring, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-14117, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-14117, 2021.

Dante Napolitano, Gael Alory, Julien Jouanno, Yves Morel, Isabelle Dadou, and Guillaume Morvan

In the northeast Gulf of Guinea (GG), São Tomé island marks the beginning of an SW-NE oriented island chain that stretches from near the equator, in the path of the Equatorial Undercurrent (EUC), to the innermost portion of the GG, where its largest island, Bioko, rises at the edge of Cameroon's continental shelf. This region of scarce observations is randomly sampled by surface drifters, which are seldom deployed elsewhere and reach GG carried by eastward equatorial currents. Curiously, the trajectories of these eastward-floating drifters approaching São Tomé veer toward the northeast, ending up in the vicinity of Nigeria, at about 4 °N. Motivated by these trajectories, we investigate the influence of the island chain's topography in the (sub)meso-to-large-scale circulation of the zonal equatorial jets. We ask: (i) does the island chain presents a physical barrier that drives the flow until the inner parts of GG? (ii) are there submeso and mesoscale anomalies generated due to flow-topography interactions?, and (iii) can these anomalies upscale to alter large scale currents, such as the EUC? We analyze the outputs of two NEMO simulations, which differ only by the presence/absence of the islands and their associated rough topography. We run both simulations with 1/12° horizontal resolution, using the same initial conditions. We will show a comparison of both simulations with moored observations (from the PIRATA array), analyzes of particle trajectories in both scenarios (i.e., with and without islands), and the differences in the large-scale equatorial currents depicted from both model runs.

How to cite: Napolitano, D., Alory, G., Jouanno, J., Morel, Y., Dadou, I., and Morvan, G.: Island's topography effects on the meso-to-large-scale circulation of the Gulf of Guinea, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-16071, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-16071, 2021.

Mareike Körner, Peter Brandt, and Marcus Dengler

The Angolan shelf system represents a highly productive ecosystem that exhibits pronounced seasonal variability. Productivity peaks in austral winter when seasonally prevailing upwelling favorable winds are weakest. Thus, other processes than local wind-driven upwelling contribute to the near-coastal cooling and nutrient supply during this season. Possible processes that lead to changes of the mixed-layer heat content does not only include local mechanism but also the passage of remotely forced coastally trapped waves. Understanding the driving mechanism of changes in the mixed-layer heat content that may be locally or remotely forced are vital for understanding of upward nutrient supply and biological productivity off Angola. Here, we investigate the seasonal mixed layer heat budget by analyzing atmospheric and oceanic causes for heat content variability. We calculate monthly estimates of surface heat fluxes, horizontal advection from near-surface velocities, horizontal eddy advection, and vertical entrainment. Additionally, diapycnal heat fluxes at the mixed-layer base are determined from shipboard and glider microstructure data. The results are discussed in reference to the variability of the eastern boundary circulation, surface heat fluxes and wind forcing.

How to cite: Körner, M., Brandt, P., and Dengler, M.: Seasonal mixed layer heat budget in coastal waters off Angola, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-6122, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-6122, 2021.

Chairpersons: Noel Keenlyside, Marta Martín-Rey
Tropical Atlantic variability
Eleftheria Exarchou, Pablo Ortega, Maria Belén Rodrıguez de Fonseca, Teresa Losada Doval, Irene Polo Sanchez, and Chloé Prodhomme

El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is a key mode of climate variability with worldwide climate impacts. Recent studies have highlighted the impact of other tropical oceans on its variability. In particular, observations have demonstrated that summer Atlantic Niños (Niñas) favor the development of Pacific Niñas (Niños) the following winter, but it is unclear how well climate models capture this teleconnection and its role in defining the seasonal predictive skill of ENSO. Here we use an ensemble of seasonal forecast systems to demonstrate that a better representation of equatorial Atlantic variability in summer and its lagged teleconnection mechanism with the Pacific relates to enhanced predictive capacity of autumn/winter ENSO. An additional sensitivity study further shows that correcting SST variability in equatorial Atlantic improves different aspects of forecast skill in the Tropical Pacific, boosting ENSO skill. This study thus emphasizes that new efforts to improve the representation of equatorial Atlantic variability, a region with long standing systematic model biases, can foster predictive skill in the region, the Tropical Pacific and beyond, through the global impacts of ENSO.

How to cite: Exarchou, E., Ortega, P., Rodrıguez de Fonseca, M. B., Losada Doval, T., Polo Sanchez, I., and Prodhomme, C.: Impact of Equatorial Atlantic Variability on ENSO Predictive Skill, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-9436, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-9436, 2021.

Ingo Richter, Yu Kosaka, Hiroki Tokinaga, and Shoichiro Kido

The potential influence of the tropical Atlantic on the development of ENSO has received increased attention over recent years. In particular equatorial Atlantic variability (also known as the Atlantic zonal mode or AZM) has been shown to be anticorrelated with ENSO, i.e. cold AZM events in boreal summer (JJA) tend to be followed by El Niño in winter (DJF), and vice versa for warm AZM events. One problem with disentangling the two-way interaction between the equatorial Atlantic and Pacific is that both ENSO and the AZM tend to develop in boreal spring (MAM).

Here we use a set of GCM sensitivity experiments to quantify the strength of the Atlantic-Pacific link. The starting point is a 1000-year free-running control simulation with the GFDL CM 2.1 model. From this control simulation, we pick years in which a cold AZM event in JJA is followed by an El Niño in DJF. These years serve as initial conditions for “perfect model” prediction experiments with 10 ensemble members each. In the control experiments, the predictions evolve freely for 12 months from January 1 of each selected year. In the second set of predictions, SSTs are gradually relaxed to climatology in the tropical Atlantic, so that the cold AZM event is suppressed. In the third set of predictions, we restore the tropical Pacific SSTs to climatology, so that the El Niño event is suppressed.

The results suggest that, on average, the tropical Atlantic SST anomalies increase the strength of El Niño in the following winter by about 10-20%. If, on the other hand, El Niño development is suppressed, the amplitude of the cold AZM event also reduces by a similar amount. The results suggest that, in the context of this GCM, the influence of AZM events on ENSO development is relatively weak but not negligible. The fact that ENSO also influences the AZM in boreal spring highlights the complex two-way interaction between these two modes of variability.

How to cite: Richter, I., Kosaka, Y., Tokinaga, H., and Kido, S.: Reexamining the tropical Atlantic influence on ENSO using perfect model predictability experiments, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-12290, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-12290, 2021.

Belen Rodríguez de Fonseca, Veronica Martín-Gómez, and Jose María Aliganga

Interaction between the tropical Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Ocean basins is increasingly recognized as a key factor in understanding climate variability on interannual to decadal timescales. Most of the studies deal with the connection between pair of basins and less attention has been paid to analyze the degree of collective interaction among the three tropical oceans and its variability along time.In this study, we consider a complex network perspective to analyze the collective connectivity among the three tropical basins. To do so, we first construct a climate network considering as network’ nodes the indices that represent the variability of the SST over the tropical Pacific, the tropical north Atlantic, the equatorial Atlantic and the tropical Indian Ocean. Then, we focus on detecting periods of maximum degree of collective connectivity (synchronization periods) using the mean network distance definition.Results show that the degree of collective connectivity among the three tropical oceans present a large muti-decadal variability and that during the observed period there were two synchronization periods: one developed over the period (1900-1935) and the other from 1975 to present. A period center in the 1950’s is characterized by being the three basins uncoupled .Using this information, an analysis of background conditions in the ocean and the atmosphere has been conducted in order to elucidate causes for this change in connectivity.

How to cite: Rodríguez de Fonseca, B., Martín-Gómez, V., and Aliganga, J. M.: Complex networks approach for detecting tropical basin interactions, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-16230, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-16230, 2021.

Arthur Prigent, Rodrigue Anicet Imbol Koungue, Joke Lübbecke, Peter Brandt, Jan Harlaß, and Mojib Latif

Since 2000, a substantial weakening in the equatorial and southeastern tropical Atlantic sea surface temperature (SST) variability is observed. Observations and reanalysis products reveal, for example, that relative to 1982–1999, the March‐April‐May SST variability in the Angola‐Benguela area (ABA) has decreased by more than 30%. Both equatorial remote forcing and local forcing are known to play an important role in driving SST variability in the ABA. Here we show that compared to 1982–1999, since 2000, equatorial remote forcing had less influence on ABA SSTs, whereas local forcing has become more important. In particular, the robust correlation between the equatorial zonal wind stress and the ABA SSTs has substantially weakened, suggesting less influence of Kelvin waves on ABA SSTs. Moreover, the strong correlation linking the South Atlantic Anticyclone and the ABA SSTs has reduced. Multidecadal surface warming of the ABA could also have played a role in weakening the interannual SST variability.

To investigate future changes in tropical Atlantic SST variability, an ensemble of nested high-resolution coupled model simulations under the global warming scenario RCP8.5 is analyzed. SST variability in both the ABA and equatorial cold tongue is found to decrease along with reduced western equatorial Atlantic zonal wind variability.  

How to cite: Prigent, A., Imbol Koungue, R. A., Lübbecke, J., Brandt, P., Harlaß, J., and Latif, M.: Weakening Satellite Era and Future Tropical Atlantic Sea Surface Temperature Variability, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-7067, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-7067, 2021.

Lander R. Crespo, Arthur Prigent, Noel Keenlyside, Ingo Richter, Emilia Sánchez-Gómez, Lea Svendsen, and Shunya Koseki

The eastern equatorial Atlantic is the region with the largest seasonal and interannual sea surface temperature (SST) variability in the entire tropical Atlantic Ocean. It is characterized by a rapid cooling during the boreal summer season, between June and September, that has large impacts in the regional climate. In this study we explore climate changes related to global warming in the cold tongue region using the CMIP5 and CMIP6 datasets as benchmarks. The historical simulations of both CMIP generations reproduce fairly well the spatial pattern of the observed warming – although weaker – in the Angola-Benguela region and most of the equatorial Atlantic band. The largest disagreements between model and observations are localized in the eastern equatorial Atlantic. The future business-as-usual scenario shows an intense and zonally homogeneous warming along the equatorial Atlantic band in CMIP5 and CMIP6. We also find a significant reduction of the June-July-August SST variability of 12% (17%) in the ensemble mean of the CMIP5 (CMIP6), in the future scenario (2050-2099) with respect to the historical period (1950-1999). The thermocline feedback, i.e., the local response of the SST anomalies to the thermocline depth anomalies, is weaker in the future scenario and appears to be the main driver of the change in interannual SST variability. The strong warming of the upper equatorial Atlantic Ocean in the future leads to a higher stratification which could explain the weaker thermocline feedback.

How to cite: Crespo, L. R., Prigent, A., Keenlyside, N., Richter, I., Sánchez-Gómez, E., Svendsen, L., and Koseki, S.: Weakening of the equatorial Atlantic SST variability under global warming, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-13003, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-13003, 2021.

Dahirou Wane, Gaëlle de Coëtlogon, Lazar Alban, Malick Wade, and Amadou T. Gaye

The objective of this work is to understand how the seasonal tendances of the tropical Atlantic SST influence the migration of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) and the West African precipitation associated with it. For this we carried out different sensitivity tests to the SST, climatological, with the regional atmospheric model WRF-ARW. Our results, based on the July-August period, show a strong influence of SST anomalies in the Dakar Nino (DN) and Atlantic cold tongue (ACT) regions on the marine ITCZ and West African precipitation. Above the ocean, the cooling of the tropical northeast Atlantic induces a strong reduction in precipitation north of 10°N, associated with the southward displacement of the ITCZ which is located between 5°-10°N with a slight increase in rains. On the other hand, the warming of the SST of the tropical south-eastern Atlantic induces an increase in marine precipitations, with a maximum centered on 5°N, explained by the location of the ITCZ further south than that associated with the cooling in the region of DN. On the continent, the influence of these SST tendances is characterized by the presence of a zonal dipole of rainfall anomalies over the Sahelian regions. The SST cooling effect in the DN region is more marked in the western Sahel, particularly in Senegal, with a sharp drop in rainfall in this region. While that of warming in the LEF region is more marked in the Sahel, which also induces a strong reduction in the intensity of the rains in this region. However, the combined experience of these two type anomalies shows a dipole of rainfall anomalies over the ocean and over the continent. This dipole is characterized by a decrease (increase) in Sahelian (Guinean) rainfall. Our results also show that, for all simulations, the increase (reduction) in precipitation is more explained by the convective (non-convective) part of the rain. The influence of the SST of DN contributes 40% to 100% on the decrease in rainfall in the West Sahel, while the SST of the ACT reduces rainfall in the eastern Sahel by 40% to 100%. Thus, this work underlines the importance of taking into account the effect of the seasonal anomaly of the SST of DN on Sahelian precipitations in forecasting models.

How to cite: Wane, D., de Coëtlogon, G., Alban, L., Wade, M., and Gaye, A. T.: Atmospheric response to SST tendancy in the Eastern topical Atlantic in July-August, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-16204, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-16204, 2021.

Koffi Worou, Hugues Goosse, and Thierry Fichefet

Much of the rainfall variability in the Guinean coast area during the boreal summer is driven by the sea surface temperature (SST) variations in the eastern equatorial Atlantic, amplified by land-atmosphere interactions. This oceanic region corresponds to the center of action of the Atlantic Equatorial mode, also termed Atlantic Niño (ATL3), which is the leading SST mode of variability in the tropical Atlantic basin. In years of positive ATL3, above normal SST conditions in the ATL3 area weaken the sea level pressure gradient between the West African lands and the ocean, which in turn reduces the monsoon flow penetration into Sahel. Subsequently, the rainfall increases over the Guinean coast area. According to observations and climate models, the relation between the Atlantic Niño and the rainfall in coastal Guinea is stationary over the 20th century. While this relation remains unchanged over the 21st century in climate model projections, the strength of the teleconnection is reduced in a warmer climate. The weakened ATL3 effect on the rainfall over the tropical Atlantic (in years of positive ATL3) has been attributed to the stabilization of the atmosphere column above the tropical Atlantic. Analysis of historical and high anthropogenic emission scenario (the Shared Socioeconomic Pathways 5-8.5) simulations from 31 models participating in the sixth phase of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project suggests an additional role of the Bjerkness feedback. A weakened SST amplitude related to ATL3 positive phases reduces the anomalous westerlies, which in turn increases the upwelling cooling effect on the sea surface. Both the Guinean coast region and the equatorial Atlantic experiment the projected rainfall reduction associated with ATL3, with a higher confidence over the ocean than over the coastal lands.

How to cite: Worou, K., Goosse, H., and Fichefet, T.: Weakened impact of the Atlantic Niño on the future Guinean coast rainfall, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-1168, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-1168, 2021.

Hyacinth Nnamchi, Mojib Latif, Noel Keenlyside, Joakim Kjellsson, and Ingo Richter

The Atlantic Niño is assumed to be largely governed by coupled atmosphere-ocean dynamics described by the Bjerknes-feedback, a positive feedback loop between adjustments in atmospheric and oceanic circulations. The postulation is that initial sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies in the eastern equatorial Atlantic can modify the zonal SST gradient and alter the vertical profile of atmospheric diabatic heating through changes in convection, water vapour, cloud cover and precipitation⁠ across the basin. The increased diabatic heating gradient slows down the Walker Circulation and activates the oceanic component of the Bjerknes feedback. However, the physics underlying the Atlantic Niño remain under debate but, the role of diabatic heating which represents the atmospheric component of the Bjerknes feedback loop is often overlooked. In this study, we use multiple observations to show that diabatic heating variability that is linked to the seasonal migration of the inter-tropical convergence zone controls the seasonality of the Atlantic Niño. The strongest diabatic heating variability in spring leads that in the SST in summer, whereas the atmospheric response to the SST variability is relatively weak. This can be linked to net surface heat flux tendencies which drive the mixed-layer temperature anomalies in spring, but is the major damping term in June-July when the SST variability peak, although observational uncertainty is quite large. Entrainment is the dominant heating term associated with the peak SST variability in June. Our findings point to the existence of a strong meridional variability in the atmosphere, which by terminating the Bjerknes feedback, controls the seasonality of the Atlantic Niño.

How to cite: Nnamchi, H., Latif, M., Keenlyside, N., Kjellsson, J., and Richter, I.: Origin of the seasonality of the Atlantic Niño , EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-2738, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-2738, 2021.

Marisa Roch, Peter Brandt, and Sunke Schmidtko

A warming and freshening trend of the mixed layer in the upper southeast tropical Atlantic Ocean (SETA) is observed by the Argo observation array during the time period of 2006 to 2019. Thus, the ocean surface density is reducing. This has an impact on the upper-ocean stratification which intensified by more than 30 % in the SETA region since 2006. The initial typical subtropical stratification with a salinity maximum at the surface is shifted to more tropical conditions characterized by warmer and fresher surface waters and a subsurface salinity maximum.

A more detailed analysis of isopycnals shows a continuous upward displacement of isopycnal surfaces suggesting that wind stress curl-driven upwelling has to play an essential role. Therefore, ASCAT wind stress changes are examined, revealing that increased open ocean wind curl-driven upwelling but also partly counteracting reduced coastal upwelling due to weakened alongshore southerly winds are present. Changing alongshore winds might be a reason why tropical surface waters spread further southward reaching more into the SETA region. Besides, atmospheric fluxes could further impact upper ocean characteristics.

Changes in the upper-ocean stratification matter as they affect not only physical ocean dynamics such as ocean ventilation processes but also biogeochemical and ecological activities such as nutrient fluxes and fisheries. Nevertheless, the consequences of increased stratification for upwelling regions are not yet fully understood. The SETA upwelling system is a key region for enhanced nutrient supply to the euphotic zone and hence, a core nutrient source for high coastal primary productivity.

We aim to assess the recent change of upper-ocean stratification towards tropical conditions at the sea surface in the SETA region and explore its driving mechanisms as well as possible consequences for the primary productivity and fisheries off Angola and Namibia, in order to improve our understanding of what is happening as a result of intensified upper-ocean stratification in upwelling regions.

How to cite: Roch, M., Brandt, P., and Schmidtko, S.: Southeast tropical Atlantic changing from subtropical to tropical conditions, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-833, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-833, 2021.

Kristin Burmeister, Franziska U. Schwarzkopf, Arne Biastoch, Peter Brandt, Joke F. Lübbecke, and Mark Inall

The upper wind-driven circulation in the tropical Atlantic plays a key role in the basin wide distribution of water mass properties and affects the transport of heat, freshwater, and biogeochemical components like oxygen or nutrients. It is an important component of the Atlantic climate system and the marine ecosystems. Hence, it is crucial to improve our understanding of its long-term variability which largely relies on model simulations due to sparse observational data coverage in earlier periods. In this study the impact of two different wind forcing products on the tropical Atlantic zonal current field is studied in a high-resolution ocean general circulation model. The first forcing product is the Coordinated Ocean-Ice Reference Experiments (CORE) v2 dataset covering the period 1948 to 2009 (Griffies et al., 2009). It has a horizontal resolution of 2°x2° and temporal resolution of 6-hours. The second forcing product is the new JRA55-do surface dataset (Tsujino et al., 2018). This dataset stands out due to its high horizontal (~55 km) and temporal resolution (3 h) which now covers the entire observational period (1958 to present).

While CORE simulations had difficulties to realistically simulate off-equatorial zonal currents in the tropical Atlantic, in model simulations forced with JRA55-do preliminary results show a clearly improved structure of the equatorial current system. In this study, the used CORE simulation tends to overestimate the strength and vertical extend of the zonal currents especially north of the equator compared to the here used JRA55-do simulation and observations. This might be due to the low resolution of the CORE forcing which cannot resolve smaller scale wind stress and wind stress curl structures.

Furthermore, the CORE wind forcing exhibit suspicious multidecadal wind variability (He et al., 2016) which presumable impacts the multidecadal variability of the simulated wind-driven circulation in the tropical Atlantic. Here, largest differences of zonal wind stress anomalies (up to ~0.03 N m-2) between both forcing products occur north of the equator between 30°-10°W before 1990. CORE shows stronger eastward wind stress anomalies between 1958 and 1970 and stronger westward wind stress anomalies between 1970 and 1990. How this impacts the variability of the equatorial current system is investigated in this study.

How to cite: Burmeister, K., Schwarzkopf, F. U., Biastoch, A., Brandt, P., Lübbecke, J. F., and Inall, M.: How do different wind forcing products impact the zonal current variability in the tropical Atlantic?, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-2165, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-2165, 2021.

Ana Trindade, Marta Martín-Rey, Marcos Portabella, Eleftheria Exarchou, Pablo Ortega, and Iñigo Gómara

Multiple lines of new evidence suggest that the Atlantic Ocean plays an active role in the modulation of global climate. Special attention deserves tropical Atlantic extreme events that have increased from 2000s causing severe winter conditions in the Euro-Atlantic region and originating the most devastating hurricane seasons on record (Foltz and McPhaden 2006; Bucham et al. 2014; Lim et al. 2018; Klotzbach et al. 2018). In 2017, the north Tropical Atlantic (NTA) experienced a profound warming, resembling the Atlantic Meridional Mode (AMM) pattern, that originated a destructive hurricane season with catastrophic social and economic damages (Klotzbach et al. 2018). Previous studies focused their attention on the description of the precursors and predictability of the 2017 hurricane season. Nevertheless, the impact of the 2017 NTA warming on equatorial SST variability has not been explored so far. Recent findings put forward the key role of the AMM-associated cross-equatorial wind to trigger oceanic waves that impact on equatorial SSTs (Martín-Rey and Lazar 2019; Foltz and McPhaden 2010).

Thus, in the present study, we investigate the connection between NTA and equatorial variability during 2017, as well as the importance of an accurate ocean forcing to correctly simulate this event. For such purpose, a suite of three initialized climate predictions, performed with the climate model EC-Earth (version3.3), are analyzed. Two sets of predictions apply a wind stress correction over the Tropical Atlantic (35S-35N) using two distinct wind stress products: ERA-Interim (ERAI) reanalysis and a new ERAI-corrected (ERA*) wind product, which are compared to a control prediction with model-generated wind stress (MOD). ERA* has been developed based on means of a geolocated scatterometer-based correction applied to the ERA-interim reanalysis (Trindade et al. 2019). The high-quality of the scatterometer stress-equivalent winds (Portabella and Stoffelen 2009; De Kloe et al., 2017) allows ERA* to contain some of the physical processes missing or misrepresented (i.e., small-scale ocean processes, such as wind-current interaction) in ERAI.

Using more realistic surface wind stress (ERAI or ERA* with respect to MOD) considerably improves the simulation of eastern NTA and equatorial warming. The novel wind stress product (ERA*) respect its precursor ERAI, better represents the off-shore warm SSTs in the NTA and along eastern equatorial Atlantic and south African coast. It is worth mentioning that oceanic wave activity proves highly sensitivity when forced by realistic ERAI and ERA* wind stress products. In the wind-corrected experiments, an anomalous wind stress curl north of the equator during March-April excites a downwelling Rossby wave that propagates to the west and is boundary reflected in June-July, becoming an equatorial downwelling Kelvin wave (dKW). This dKW displaces eastward favouring the development of an equatorial warming in late-summer and fall. ERA* does not show significant changes in the RW generation, but in the amplitude of equatorial KW during summer season.

Our results highlight the importance of using improved wind stress products to achieve a correct simulation of ocean wave activity and in turn equatorial Atlantic SST variability. This information is of great value for improving current seasonal forecast systems.

How to cite: Trindade, A., Martín-Rey, M., Portabella, M., Exarchou, E., Ortega, P., and Gómara, I.: Dominant role of North tropical Atlantic 2017 warm event on equatorial variability, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-828, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-828, 2021.

Marie Pontoppidan, Priscilla Mooney, and Jerry Tjiputra

Marine heat waves (MHW’s) exert a substantial impact on human life and ecosystems in the ocean. In the western part of the tropical Atlantic basin, coral reefs are impacted by such events, resulting in coral bleaching and subsequently loss of biodiversity. To mitigate future changes in MHW’s it is detrimental to increase our mechanistic understanding of these events, and this must be investigated on a local scale to understand the smaller scale driving processes of the heat waves, e.g. air-sea interactions, and the spatio-temporal extent on environmental drivers essential for the ecosystem processes.

Here we use a coupled ocean-atmosphere modelling system (COAWST), which includes the atmospheric model WRF and the ocean model ROMS (including the Fennel ecosystem module), to dynamically downscale an area consisting of the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. Our 12 km grid spacing resolves (at least partly) smaller scale phenomena and in combination with the coupling of the ocean and the atmospheric model, it ensures a skilled representation of the air-sea interactions which are important for MHW’s. We will show the results of this decadal climate simulation with regards to generation, evolution and persistence of the MHW’s.

How to cite: Pontoppidan, M., Mooney, P., and Tjiputra, J.: Investigating marine heat waves with a coupled atmosphere-ocean regional climate model, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-4006, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-4006, 2021.

Samantha Hallam, Mark Guishard, Simon Josey, Pat Hyder, and Joel Hirschi

Here we investigate tropical cyclone (TC) activity and intensity within a 100km radius of Bermuda between 1955 and 2019. Our results show a more easterly genesis over time and significant increasing trends in tropical cyclone intensity (maximum wind speed (Vmax)) with a decadal Vmax median value increase of 30kts from 33 to 63kts, together with significant increasing August, September, October (ASO) sea surface temperature (SST) of 1.1°C (0.17 °C per decade)  and ocean temperature between 0.5–0.7°C (0.08-0.1°C per decade)  in the depth range 0-300m. The strongest correlation is found between TC intensity and ocean temperature averaged through the top 50m ocean layer (T50m) r=0.37 (p<0.01). 

We show how tropical cyclone potential intensity estimates are closer to actual intensity by using T50m opposed to SST using the Bermuda Atlantic Timeseries Hydrostation S dataset. We modify the widely used sea surface temperature potential intensity index by using T50m to provide a closer estimate of the observed minimum sea level pressure (MSLP), and associated Vmax than by using SST, creating a T50m potential intensity (T50m_PI) index. The average MSLP difference is reduced by 12mb and proportional to the SST/ T50m temperature difference. We also suggest the index could be used over a wider area of the subtropical/tropical Atlantic where there is a shallow mixed layer depth. Finally, we outline the TC wind-pressure relationship observed for the subtropical Atlantic around Bermuda, explaining 77% of the variance, which may prove useful for future prediction.

(Environmental Research Letters, 2020, in revision)



How to cite: Hallam, S., Guishard, M., Josey, S., Hyder, P., and Hirschi, J.: Increasing tropical cyclone intensity and potential intensity in the subtropical Atlantic around Bermuda from an ocean heat content perspective 1955- 2019, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-7803, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-7803, 2021.

Marine Ecosystems-Biogeochemical variability
Carlos Augusto Musetti de Assis, Letícia Cotrim da Cunha, Luana Queiroz Pinho, Helen Michelle de Jesus Affe, Renan Luis Evangelista Vieira, and Thiago Veloso Franklin

The Western Tropical Atlantic is a crucial region when it comes to understanding the CO2 dynamics in the tropics, as it is subject to large inputs of freshwater from the Amazon River and the ITCZ rainfall, as well as the input of CO2-rich waters from upwelling of subsurface water. This study aims to reconstruct the surface marine carbonate system from 1998 to 2018 using sea surface temperature (SST) and sea surface salinity (SSS) data from the PIRATA buoy at 8°N 38°W and describe its variability in time. Two empirical models were used to calculate total alkalinity (TA) and dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) from SSS. From these two parameters and SST data, it was possible to calculate pH and CO2 fugacity (fCO2) values. Only DIC, pH and fCO2 showed a statistically significant trend in time, where DIC showed an increase of 0.717 µmol kg-1 year-1, pH decreased 0.001394 pH units year-1, and fCO2 had an increase of 1.539 µatm year-1. Two different seasons were observed when data were analyzed: a dry season from January to June, when SSTs were lower (around 27°C) and SSS was stable around 36, matching the period when the ITCZ is over the South American continent, Amazon river plume is restricted to western shelf areas and Equatorial upwelling is more active, and a rainy season from July to December, when SSTs were higher (around 28.5°C) and SSS had higher variability (from 31 to 36), matching the period when the ITCZ is at its northern range, the Amazon plume is spread eastwards through the North Brazil Current’s retroflection and the Equatorial upwelling is less intense. Along with that, TA, DIC and pH varied positively with SSS, with higher values (TA around 2350 µmol kg-1, DIC around 2025 µmol kg-1 and pH around 8.060 pH units) during dry season and lower values (TA around 2300 µmol kg-1, DIC around 1990 µmol kg-1 and pH around 8.050 pH units) during rainy season. On the other hand, fCO2 varied positively with SST, with lower values (around 385 µatm) during dry, upwelling season and higher values (around 390 µatm) during rainy season, showing that both SSS and SST variability play an important role in the CO2 solubility in the region.

How to cite: Musetti de Assis, C. A., Cotrim da Cunha, L., Queiroz Pinho, L., de Jesus Affe, H. M., Evangelista Vieira, R. L., and Veloso Franklin, T.: Reconstruction of the surface marine carbonate system at the Western Tropical Atlantic, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-6597, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-6597, 2021.

Renan Luis Evangelista Vieira, Leticia Cotrim da Cunha, Ricardo de Almeida Keim, Carlos Augusto Musetti de Assis, Jessica da Silva Nogueira, Raquel Avelina da Conceição dos Santos, Thiago Veloso Franklin, Rafael Avelino da Conceição dos Santos, and Paula Charnaux Macedo

Here we characterize the chemical properties of the water masses in the Western Tropical Atlantic Ocean according to their inorganic nutrient concentration: dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN), phosphate and silicate. We collected full-depth water samples from 16 oceanographic stations along the 38°W transect, from 1°S to 15°N during the PIRATA-BR XVIII cruise, in October-November 2018. In this region, the surface and subsurface circulation in the Atlantic Ocean displays complex seasonal patterns, under influence of the Intertropical Convergence Zone. The samples were collected from Niskin bottles closed in ten different depths, stored frozen, and later analysed through spectrophotometry. Besides that, the CTD-O2 data provided continuous salinity, temperature, and dissolved oxygen measurements, used to identify the water masses according to their thermohaline indexes. Six water masses were identified in the region based on their neutral density limits: Tropical Surface Water (TSW, γn < 24.448 kg m-3); South and North Atlantic Central Water (SACW and NACW, γn 24.448 – 26.815 kg m-3); Antarctic Intermediate Water (AAIW, γn 26.815 – 27.7153 kg m-3); North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW, γn 27.7153 – 28.135 kg m-3); and Antarctic Bottom Water (AABW, γn > 28.135 kg m-3).  The oligotrophic TSW is almost completely depleted in nutrients; Central Waters NACW and SACW have the following concentration ranges: DIN, 5 – 15 µmol/kg, phosphate, 0.5 – 1.0 µmol/kg, silicate, 5 – 20 µmol/kg); AAIW nutrient concentrations are DIN: 30 – 40 µmol/kg, phosphate: 1.5 – 2.5 µmol/kg, and silicate: 25 – 40 µmol/kg; NADW nutrient concentrations are DIN: 15 – 25 µmol/kg, phosphate: 1.0 – 1.5 µmol/kg) , and silicate: 20 – 45 µmol/kg; and AABW nutrient concentration ranges are: 40 – 80 µmol/kg silicate, 30 – 35 µmol/kg DIN, and 1.5 – 2.5 µmol/kg phosphate. North of 5°N up to 15°N, there is a region of lower oxygen and higher phosphate concentrations, comprising the central water and the upper AAIW layers, extending from 200 m to 800 m. This corresponds to the area under influence of the eastward flowing North Equatorial Counter Current (NECC) and North Equatorial Under Current (NEUC), which are both, in turn, influenced by the position of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). Further study directions include a detailed study of the multiple source waters to this central layer, associated to the regional circulation, and possible linking to the eastern tropical Atlantic oxygen minimum zone.

How to cite: Evangelista Vieira, R. L., Cotrim da Cunha, L., de Almeida Keim, R., Musetti de Assis, C. A., da Silva Nogueira, J., da Conceição dos Santos, R. A., Veloso Franklin, T., da Conceição dos Santos, R. A., and Charnaux Macedo, P.: Water Masses Chemical Properties in the Western Tropical Atlantic Ocean, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-9025, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-9025, 2021.

Emilia Sanchez, Marta Martin Rey, Roland Seferian, and Yeray Santana-Falcon

The interannual climate variability in the Tropical Atlantic is mainly controlled by two air-sea coupled modes denoted as Meridional Mode (MM) and Equatorial Mode (EM). The MM, peaking in boreal spring, is characterized by an anomalous Sea Surface Temperature (SST) interhemispheric gradient associated with anomalous surface cross-equatorial winds blowing to the warmer hemisphere.  On the other hand, the positive phase of the EM exhibits an anomalous warming in the equatorial band and along the African coast, related to a weakening of the climatological trade winds. Both interannual modes illustrate significant SST and surface wind changes in the eastern boundary upwelling systems (EBUS) of the tropical Atlantic: the Senegal-Mauritanian and Angola-Benguela. The EBUS are characterized by wind-induced coastal upwelling of deep cold waters rich in nutrients supporting high primary productivity and an abundance of food resources. Hence, the physical or climate characteristics associated with the MM and EM may have a potential effect on marine organisms and ecosystems. The goal of this study is to understand the links between the main modes of tropical Atlantic variability and biogeochemical (BGC) variables such as oxygen, net primary production and ph. These are known to be the main drivers for marine ecosystems. Firstly we study the influence of MM and AM on the EBUS and how these links are represented by the coupled ESM CNRM-ESM2.1 against observations. Second, we use the ESM to investigate the links between the SST anomalies associated to MM and EM and the main BGC stressors mentioned above. For this purpose, a set of numerical experiments performed with CMIP6 climate models are used. This work is supported by the H2020 TRIATLAS project, whose main goal is to understand and evaluate the future evolution of living marine resources in the Atlantic Ocean.

How to cite: Sanchez, E., Martin Rey, M., Seferian, R., and Santana-Falcon, Y.: Links between interannual climate variability and marine ecosystems in the Tropical Atlantic, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-15540, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-15540, 2021.

Shunya Koseki, Lander Rodriguez Crespo, and Noel Keenlyside

Most state-of-the-art earth system model still exhibit large biases in the tropical Atlantic. This study aims to investigate how the physical bias influences the marine biogeochemical processes in the tropical Atlantic using Norwegian Earth System Model (NorESM). We assess four different configurations of NorESM: NorESM version 1is taken as benchmark (NorESM-CTL), a version of this model with a physical bias correction using anomaly coupling (NorESM-AC), and NorESM version 2 with low and medium atmospheric resolution (NorESM-LM/NorESM-MM) is also utilized.


With respect to NorESM-CTL, the annual-mean sea surface temperature (SST) bias is improved largely in NorESM-AC and NorESM-MM in the equatorial Atlantic and southeast Atlantic. On the other hand, the improvement of seasonal cycle of SST can be seen in NorESM-AC and the two versions of NorESM2; development of Atlantic Cold Tongue (ACT) is realistic in terms of location and timing. Corresponding to the ACT seasonal cycle, the primary production in the equatorial Atlantic is also improved and in particular, the Atlantic summer bloom is well represented in NorESM-AC and NorESM-MM even though the amount of production is still much smaller than satellite observations. This realistic summer bloom can be related to the well-represented shallow thermocline and associated nitrate supply from the subsurface ocean at the equator.

How to cite: Koseki, S., Rodriguez Crespo, L., and Keenlyside, N.: An assessment of marine biogeochemical processes in the tropical Atlantic in NorESMs, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-9592, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-9592, 2021.

Fanny Chenillat, Julien Jouanno, Serena Illig, Founi Mesmin Awo, Gaël Alory, and Patrice Brehmer
Surface chlorophyll-concentration (CHL-a) remotely observed by satellite shows a marked seasonal and interannual variability in the Tropical Atlantic, with potential consequences on the marine trophic web. Seasonal and interannual CHL-variability peaks in boreal summer and shows maxima in the equatorial Atlantic region at 10˚W, spreading from 0 to 30˚W. In this study, we analyze how the remotely-sensed surface CHL-responds to the leading climate modes affecting the interannual equatorial Atlantic variability over the 1998-2018 period, namely the Atlantic Zonal Mode (AZM) and the North Tropical Atlantic Mode (NTA, also known as the Atlantic Meridional Mode). The AZM is characterized by anomalous warming (or cooling) along the eastern equatorial band. In contrast, the NTA is characterized by an interhemispheric pattern of the sea surface temperature (SST), with anomalous warm (cold) conditions in the north tropical Atlantic region and weak negative (positive) SST anomalies south of the equator. We show that both modes significantly drive the interannual Tropical Atlantic surface CHL-variability, with different timings and contrasted modulation on the eastern and western portions of the cold tongue area. Our results also reveal that the NTA slightly dominates (40%) the summer tropical Atlantic interannual variability over the last two decades, most probably because of a positive phase of the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation. For each mode of variability, we analyze an event characterized by an extreme negative sea surface temperature (SST) anomaly in the Atlantic equatorial band. Both modes are associated with a positive CHL-anomaly at the equator. In 2002, a negative phase of the NTA led to cold SST anomaly and high positive CHL-in the western portion of the cold tongue, peaking in June-July and lasting until the end of the year. In contrast, in 2005, a negative phase of the AZM drove cool temperature and positive CHL-in the eastern equatorial band, with a peak in May-June and almost no signature after August. Such contrasted year to year conditions can affect the marine ecosystem by changing temporal and spatial trophic niches for pelagic predators, thus inducing significant variations for ecosystem functioning and fisheries.

How to cite: Chenillat, F., Jouanno, J., Illig, S., Awo, F. M., Alory, G., and Brehmer, P.: Interannual sea surface chlorophyll-a signature in the tropical Atlantic, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-9949, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-9949, 2021.

Robert Marsh, Nikolaos Skliris, Hazel Oxenford, and Kwazi Appeaning Addo

Since 2011, Sargassum seaweed has proliferated across the tropical North Atlantic, evident in Floating Algae Index (FAI) images for the Central Atlantic region (38-63°W, 0-22°N) over 2000-2020. To investigate the role of physical drivers in post-2011 Sargassum blooms, conditions are examined across the wider tropical Atlantic. Of particular consequence for the growth and drift of Sargassum are patterns and seasonality of winds and currents. In years when the FAI index is high (2015, 2018), the Intertropical Convergence Zone (where Sargassum accumulates) was displaced southward, towards nutrient-rich waters of the Amazon river plume and the equatorial upwelling zone. Strong enhancement of the North Brazil Current retroflection and North Equatorial Counter Current circulation system in 2015 and 2018 may have increased nutrient availability/uptake for Sargassum in the North Equatorial Recirculation Region. To first order, these changes are associated with modes of natural variability in the tropical Atlantic, notably a negative phase of the Atlantic Meridional Mode in 2015 and 2018, and a positive phase of the Atlantic Niño in 2018. The influence of anomalous winds and currents on Sargassum drift during years of high and low FAI are explored with virtual particle tracking, using surface currents from an eddy-resolving ocean model hindcast and optional % windage, to quantify the variable partitioning between Sargassum that is westward-bound to the Caribbean and eastward-bound to west Africa.

How to cite: Marsh, R., Skliris, N., Oxenford, H., and Appeaning Addo, K.: Post-2011 variability of the great Atlantic Sargassum belt attributed to changing winds and currents, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-12381, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-12381, 2021.

Paulo Coelho, Pedro Tchipalanga, Marisa Macuéria, Anja van der Plas, Benjamin N’Guessan, Kanga Desiré, Ahmed Makaoui, Ismail Bessa, Mohamed Idrissi, Omar Ettahiri, Karim Hilmi, Issufo Halo, Sunke Schmidtko, Marcus Dengler, Peter Brandt, David Cervantes, Helene Lødemol, Melissa Chierici, Marek Ostrowski, and Mamadou Lamba Bâ and the WG TOMSWA - Ad-Hoc Working Group on Transboundary Oxygen Monitoring Status in West Africa
Climate change is expected to result in a reduction of oceanic oxygen concentration and an expansion of oxygen-minimum zones (OMZs) in the tropical ocean. Oxygen is perhaps the principal environmental variable influencing habitat and health of fish populations. In West Africa, where rich fisheries are essential for supporting the livelihood of coastal populations, the prospect of expanding hypoxic conditions into fishable coastal shelf waters is a major concern. A transboundary sharing of information on expanding OMZs could provide valuable operational data for fishers and managers, but the capacity for monitoring oxygen conditions at the trans-regional scale is today limited in many countries of the region. Here, we present an inventory of oxygen content in the coastal fringe off West Africa between 30°N and 30°S. Our aim is to present a unified and fisheries relevant information on oxygen water quality along the entire West African continental boundary. The inventory collates the results of recent international expeditions monitoring trans-regional oxygen data over the shelves of West African countries. The EAF Nansen Programme surveys on board the RV Dr Fridtjof Nansen in 2017 and 2019 provided one source such data. During these surveys, scientists representing regional research fisheries institutes carried out observations on dissolved oxygen conditions within their respective exclusive economic zones (EEZ). These data are complemented by oxygen data collected during different international expeditions particularly including research cruises with RV Meteor covering the EEZ of West African countries during 2013-2019. The Meteor results have long established the baseline for Oxygen Minimum Zone (OMZ) monitoring. Our inventory attempts to extend this baseline to cover the coastal West African waters.  In this presentation, we show the distribution of the mean and extreme oxygen conditions in the coastal fringe along the West African continental boundary, provide insight into the seasonal variability across the region, identify data-poor subregions, and discuss potential impacts of the observed oxygen distributions on local ecosystems and fisheries.

How to cite: Coelho, P., Tchipalanga, P., Macuéria, M., van der Plas, A., N’Guessan, B., Desiré, K., Makaoui, A., Bessa, I., Idrissi, M., Ettahiri, O., Hilmi, K., Halo, I., Schmidtko, S., Dengler, M., Brandt, P., Cervantes, D., Lødemol, H., Chierici, M., Ostrowski, M., and Bâ, M. L. and the WG TOMSWA - Ad-Hoc Working Group on Transboundary Oxygen Monitoring Status in West Africa: An inventory of dissolved oxygen conditions along the eastern boundary of tropical and subtropical Atlantic: building oxygen monitoring capacity in West African countries, 2013-2019, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-15806, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-15806, 2021.