Physical Oceanography

, Volume 20, Issue 6, pp 419–434 | Cite as

Space-and-time variability of the meridional heat transport in the north atlantic

  • A. B. Polonsky
  • S. B. Krasheninnikova
Analysis of Observations and Methods for Calculating Hydrophysical Fields in the Ocean

We analyze the space-and-time variability of the meridional heat transport in the North Atlantic. The contribution of various mechanisms to the integral meridional heat transport (MHT) is estimated. The key role played by the drift transport of the Tropical Atlantic in the formation of the meridional oceanic heat transport is confirmed. On the basis of the general analysis of estimations obtained by various authors according to the data accumulated for 1870–2008 and the results of numerical analyses based on the data of NCEP/NCAR reanalysis, we show that the long-term average meridional drift heat (mass) transport attains its maximum values equal to (1.6 ± 0.1) PW [(17.4 ± 1.5) Sv] in the vicinity of 12.5°N in the Tropical Atlantic. The contribution of the heat transport caused by the horizontal Sverdrup circulation to the integral meridional heat transport is maximum in the vicinity of 30° N. On the average, it is equal to ∼ 40%. In the Subtropical Atlantic, the meridional heat transport varies with a period of ∼ 50–70 yr. The minimum value of the integral meridional heat transport was attained in the mid-1960s and its maximum value was at attained at the beginning of the 1990s. The location of the center of Azores pressure maximum makes it possible to conclude that the intensification of the total meridional heat transport in the Subtropical Atlantic on these time scales is accompanied by the displacement of the center of the North Subtropical anticyclonic gyre in the southwest direction.


Wind Stress Heat Transport Wind Field Ocean Heat Transport Meridional Heat Transport 
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© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Marine Hydrophysical Institute, Ukrainian National Academy of SciencesSevastopolUkraine

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