Technical Report


Deep western boundary currents in the southwestern Pacific Ocean : WOCE PCM-9 : February 1991-December 1992 Public Deposited

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  • This report describes current meter measurements from an experiment to measure the deep western boundary current that carries dense water from the Antarctic to the Pacific Ocean. The field measurements were conducted as part of a joint two year experiment by Oregon State University, Texas A&M University, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the New Zealand Oceanographic Institute. The effective western boundary for deep waters in the South Pacific is located east of New Zealand and consists of the Campbell Plateau, Chatham Rise and the Kermadec and Tonga Ridges. Because there is no substantial source of dense bottom waters in the North Pacific, all the deep and bottom waters of both the North and South Pacific have their origin in the Antarctic, and are carried north in a deep western boundary current (DWBC). Neither the sinking of dense water in a few places near the Antarctic Continent nor the general upwelling of this water throughout the rest of the world ocean are easily measurable; since the DWBC is the sole source of deep inflow for the world's largest ocean, knowledge of its strength and variability is critical to a better understanding of the ventilation and heat balance of the Pacific. No direct measurements had ever been made in the DWBC in the Pacific, and evidence of its width could only be made from hydrographic evidence. It was decided to deploy the U.S. resources along a 1000-km line at 32.5°S extending east from the western boundary (Fig. 1, Table 1). Three nominal depths were instrumented: about 200m above the bottom, 4500m, and 2500m (Fig. 2). The 2500m level was selected because it was anticipated that it is near the top of the DWBC in the west, and should show predominately northward flow in the eastern part of the array. The array was deployed in January and February, 1991 from the RN Rapuhia operated by the New Zealand Oceanographic Institute. It consisted of 20 sub-surface moorings, with a total of 60 current meters. It was recovered in November and December, 1992 by the FN Giljanes. The acoustic releases failed on four of the mooring. Partial instrumentation on three of these were recovered by dragging. Mooring 8 was not recovered. The top instrument on Mooring 14 sunk during recovery. A total of 53 current meters were recovered. The experiment was called MAPKIWI, but nobody remembers why. The MAPKIWI current meter array contributes to the World Ocean Circulation experiment and is identified by that program as PCM-9.
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