Upwelling in the Ocean Basins North of the ACC: 2. How Cool Subantarctic Water Reaches the Surface in the Tropics

J. R. Toggweiler, Ellen R.M. Druffel, Robert M. Key, Eric D. Galbraith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearch

8 Citations (Scopus)


©2019. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved. Large volumes of cool water are drawn up to the surface in the tropical oceans. A companion paper shows that the cool water reaches the surface in or near the upwelling zones off northern and southern Africa and Peru. The cool water has a subantarctic origin and spreads extensively across the Atlantic and Pacific basins after it reaches the surface. Here, we look at the spreading in two low-resolution ocean general circulation models and find that the spreading in the models is much less extensive than observed. The problem seems to be the way the upwelling and the spreading are connected (or not connected) to the ocean's large-scale overturning. As proposed here, the cool upwelling develops when warm buoyant water in the western tropics is drawn away to become deep water in the North Atlantic. The “drawing away” shoals the tropical thermocline in a way that allows cool subantarctic water to be drawn up to the surface along the eastern margins. The amounts of upwelling produced this way exceed the amounts generated by the winds in the upwelling zones by as much as 4 times. Flow restrictions make it difficult for the warm buoyant water in our models to be drawn away.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2609-2625
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2019


  • numerical modeling
  • ocean circulation
  • overturning circulation
  • upwelling


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