Matthis Auger


Variability and Changes of Hydrography and Circulation in the Subpolar Southern Ocean

Date 31/01/2022 15:00
Diplôme Sorbonne Université
Lieu Visio


The Southern Ocean is central to the global oceanic circulation and climate. This region is however on the frontline of human-induced climate change, through intense uptake of anthropogenic heat and carbon. Consequently, the Southern Ocean has experienced important changes in its hydrography and circulation over the last decades.

Its subpolar part, south of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, hosts large circulation systems of importance for the production of water masses and their associate heat and carbon content, for ocean interactions with sea-ice and ice-shelves, and consequently for global mean sea level. Observations are still sparse in that region, particularly in wintertime when it is covered by sea ice. Thus, the regional response of the subpolar Southern Ocean hydrography and circulation to interactions with the atmosphere, cryosphere, and background circulation at various spatial and time scales is still under active research.

In this thesis, I contribute to observing the variability and long-term changes of the hydrography and circulation of the subpolar Southern Ocean, and to identifying the mechanisms driving their variability. I first observe the long-term temperature changes in the upper layer of the Southern Ocean, from repeated ship-based measurement transects over 25 years. Besides previously documented trends, I refine the monitoring on the still poorly observed warming and shallowing of the warm subsurface water of the Southern Ocean. The long-term warming is stronger than interannual variability, and the shallowing rate is 3 to 9 times the previously estimated one. In a second part, I develop and exploit an ocean topography dataset, spanning six years of measurements over the whole Southern Ocean south of 50°S. This dataset allows me to explore the variability of the subpolar Southern Ocean circulation, particularly the seasonal cycle of the large-scale circulation and the mesoscale variability under sea ice. At the seasonal scale, the circulation of the Weddell and Ross gyres, and the Antarctic Slope Current are mainly dictated by three modes of variability, principally linked to the surface stress of the wind on the surface of the ocean and its modulation by the sea ice. The mesoscale variability is weak outside the energetic Antarctic slope current in the pack ice, while the marginal ice zone seems to be a region with enhanced cyclonic eddies generation.

The implications of these results on the physical processes of the Southern Ocean and its long-term changes are discussed.


Lien visio : https://www.us02web.zoom.us/j/81861065877

Composition du jury

Pr. Damien Cardinal, Sorbonne Université, LOCEAN, Paris, Président
Pr. Sarah Gille, Scripps Insitution of Oceanography, San Diego, Rapportrice
Pr. Andrew Thompson, California Insitute of Technology, Pasadena, Rapporteur
Dr. Rosemary Morrow, Université Paul Sabatier, LEGOS, Toulouse, Examinatrice
Pr. Michael Meredith, British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge, Examinateur
Dr. Pierre Prandi, Collecte Localisation Satellite, Toulouse, Co-Superviseur
Dr. Jean-Baptiste Sallée, CNRS, Sorbonne Université, LOCEAN, Paris, Directeur de thèse