Record number :
Title of article :
The alpha/beta ocean distinction: A perspective on freshwater fluxes, convection, nutrients and productivity in high-latitude seas
Author/Authors :
Carmack، نويسنده , , Eddy C.، نويسنده ,
Issue Information :
روزنامه با شماره پیاپی سال 2007
Pages :
From page :
To page :
Abstract :
Stratification is perhaps the most important attribute of oceans with regards to climate and biology. Two simple aspects of the oceanʹs climate system appear to have a surprisingly important role in transforming waters that feed the global thermohaline circulation, dominating patterns of biogeochemical flux and establishing macroecological domains. First, largely because of meridional distillation (mainly due to the atmospheric transport of freshwater across the Isthmus of Panama) the North Pacific is fresher than the North Atlantic. Second, largely because of zonal distillation (e.g., warming and evaporation at low latitudes and poleward transport of latent heat and moisture by the atmosphere) the upper layers of subtropical seas are permanently stratified by temperature (NT2=gαdT/dz>0; here called alpha oceans), while the upper layers of high-latitude seas are permanently stratified by salinity (NS2=gβdS/dz>0; here called beta oceans). The physical basis for the boundary separating alpha and beta oceans is unclear, but may lie in the thermodynamical equations published by Fofonoff [1961. Energy transformations in the sea. Fisheries Research Board of Canada, Report Series 109, 82pp]. Nevertheless, it is clear that the resulting thermohaline distributions establish a ‘downhill journey’ of low-salinity (and nutrient-rich) waters from the North Pacific to the Arctic and then into the North Atlantic. The Arctic Ocean—itself—acts a double estuary, whereby waters entering from the North Atlantic become either denser through cooling (negative estuary) or lighter by freshening (positive estuary) as they circulate within the basin and then return to the North Atlantic as a variety of components of the oceanʹs conveyor. Intermediate and deep waters generally form within cyclonic beta oceans in close proximity to alphas systems. Similar patterns of stratification, nutrients and biogeographical boundaries persist in the Southern Hemisphere. It is thus argued that this simple distinction—alpha versus beta oceans—provides a broad, conceptual framework for simple interpretation of key physical and biological processes and rates, including the impacts of climate variability.
Keywords :
Stratification , Convection , Freshwater , Nutrients , Productivity , North Atlantic/North Pacific
Journal title :
Deep-sea research part II: Topical Studies in oceanography
Serial Year :
Link To Document :