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The global influence of localized dynamics in the Southern Ocean


The circulation of the Southern Ocean connects ocean basins, links the deep and shallow layers of the ocean, and has a strong influence on global ocean circulation, climate, biogeochemical cycles and the Antarctic Ice Sheet. Processes that act on local and regional scales, which are often mediated by the interaction of the flow with topography, are fundamental in shaping the large-scale, three-dimensional circulation of the Southern Ocean. Recent advances provide insight into the response of the Southern Ocean to future change and the implications for climate, the carbon cycle and sea-level rise.

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Fig. 1: The Southern Ocean circulation.
Fig. 2: Interaction of the ACC with topography.
Fig. 3: Spatial distribution of mixing along and across isopycnals.
Fig. 4: Processes that control ocean heat flux to the Antarctic margin.


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A. Silvano, A. Foppert, A. Lenton, M. Nikurashin and E. van Wijk provided comments on the paper. M. Bessel and G. Wells prepared the original version of Fig. 1b. This work is supported in part by the Australian Government Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) programme through the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems CRC, by the National Environmental Science Program, by the Centre for Southern Hemisphere Oceans Research, a partnership between CSIRO and the Qingdao National Laboratory for Marine Science and Technology, and by the Tinker-Muse Prize for Science and Policy in Antarctica.

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Nature thanks R. Ferrari, N. Gruber and K. Speer for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Correspondence to Stephen R. Rintoul.

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Rintoul, S.R. The global influence of localized dynamics in the Southern Ocean. Nature 558, 209–218 (2018).

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