Document Type

Article

Publication Date

5-12-2016

Publication Title

Earth System Science Data

ISSN

1866-3516

Volume

8

DOI

https://doi.org/10.5194/essd-8-191-2016

Abstract

We map the weekly position of the Antarctic Polar Front (PF) in the Southern Ocean over a 12-year period (2002–2014) using satellite sea surface temperature (SST) estimated from cloud-penetrating microwave radiometers. Our study advances previous efforts to map the PF using hydrographic and satellite data and provides a unique realization of the PF at weekly resolution across all longitudes (doi:10.1594/PANGAEA.855640). The mean path of the PF is asymmetric; its latitudinal position spans from 44 to 64° S along its circumpolar path. SST at the PF ranges from 0.6 to 6.9 °C, reflecting the large spread in latitudinal position. The average intensity of the front is 1.7 °C per 100 km, with intensity ranging from 1.4 to 2.3 °C per 100 km. Front intensity is significantly correlated with the depth of bottom topography, suggesting that the front intensifies over shallow bathymetry. Realizations of the PF are consistent with the corresponding surface expressions of the PF estimated using expendable bathythermograph data in the Drake Passage and Australian and African sectors. The climatological mean position of the PF is similar, though not identical, to previously published estimates. As the PF is a key indicator of physical circulation, surface nutrient concentration, and biogeography in the Southern Ocean, future studies of physical and biogeochemical oceanography in this region will benefit from the provided data set.

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