National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2015

Antarctic Bottom Water temperature changes in the western South Atlantic from 1989–2014

Johnson, G.C., K.E. McTaggart, and R. Wanninkhof

J. Geophys. Res., 119(12), 8567–8577, doi: 10.1002/2014JC010367 (2014)

Warming of abyssal waters in recent decades contributes to global heat uptake and sea level rise. Repeat oceanographic section data in the western South Atlantic taken mostly in 1989 (1995 across the Scotia Sea), 2005, and 2014 are used to quantify warming in abyssal waters that spread northward through the region from their Antarctic origins in the Weddell Sea. While much of the Scotia Sea warmed between 1995 and 2005, only the southernmost portion, on the north side of the Weddell Gyre, continued to warm between 2005 and 2014. The abyssal Argentine Basin also warmed between 1989 and 2005, but again only the southernmost portion continued to warm between 2005 and 2014, suggesting a slowdown in the inflow of the coldest, densest Antarctic Bottom Waters into the western South Atlantic between 1989 and 2014. In contrast, the abyssal waters of the Brazil Basin warmed both between 1989 and 2005 and between 2005 and 2014, at a rate of about 2 m°C yr−1. This warming is also assessed in terms of the rates of change of heights above the bottom for deep isotherms in each deep basin studied. These results, together with findings from previous studies, suggest the deep warming signal observed in the Weddell Sea after the mid-1970s Weddell Polynya was followed by abyssal warming in the Argentine Basin from the late 1970s through about 2005, then warming in the deep Vema Channel from about 1992 through at least 2010, and warming in the Brazil Basin from 1989 to 2014.

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