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Brazilian Journal of Oceanography

Print version ISSN 1679-8759On-line version ISSN 1982-436X


SILVA, Alex et al. Seasonal changes in the mixed and barrier layers in the western Equatorial Atlantic. Braz. j. oceanogr. [online]. 2005, vol.53, n.3-4, pp.83-98. ISSN 1982-436X.

Climate is closely related to the dynamics of the surface layer of the tropical Atlantic and the exchange between this latter and the atmosphere, and wearther forecasting will improve with increasing understanding of the processes that govern the relative distribution of thermodynamic properties of the water column. This paper focuses on the isolation of warm surface waters from the cold ones of the deep ocean by a salinity induced barrier layer (BL) in the western equatorial Atlantic (3ºS-7ºN; 40º-52ºW), based on 487 CTD profiles (REVIZEE - 1995-2001). The main process contributing to the seasonal BL formation is the discharge of low salinity waters from the Amazon river. During boreal late winter/spring (Mar-May; high river discharge), deeper isothermal (ZT) and mixed layers (ZM) prevail and the formation of a 16m-thick BL was clearly determined the formation of a salt-induced marked pycnocline within a deeper isothermal layer. However, during the boreal autumn (Oct-Dec; low river discharge), density stratification was mainly determined by temperature distribution (ZM m ZT; BLT = ZM - ZT m 0). There was no clear register of a BL on the Amazon shelf, but a maximum BL (40 m) formed near the shelf break at 45°W.

Keywords : Halocline; Thermocline; Heat exchange; Coastal waters; Barrier layer; Amazon; Lat 3°S-7°N; Long 40°W-52°W.

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