Physical Oceanography, Vol.
ANALYSIS OF OBSERVATIONS AND METHODS FOR CALCULATING
HYDROPHYSICAL FIELDS IN THE OCEAN
EVALUATION OF THE MERIDIONAL HEAT TRANSPORT
IN THE SUBTROPICAL ATLANTIC
A. B. Polonskii and S. B. Krasheninnikova
Dedicated to the jubilee of
Prof. Viktorina Fedorovna Sukhovei
By using the data of a standard section made along
in the Subtropical Atlantic within the
framework of the World-Ocean-Circulation Experiment, we compute the meridional heat trans-
port. In agreement with the major part of published estimates obtained according to the data of
direct oceanographic measurements, it is approximately equal to
PW. The meridional heat
is caused mainly by the quasistationary meridional circulation with fairly
stable structure. At the same time, we discovered the intense seasonal variability of some com-
ponents of the meridional heat transport. The contribution of eddy heat flows to the integral
transport is insignificant.
Meridional heat transport in the ocean is one of the main mechanisms of the impact of the ocean on the cli-
matic system [1, 2]. In this respect, the Atlantic Ocean (characterized by the presence of a quasistationary heat
transport to the north asymmetric about the equator) is of special interest [3–8]. This phenomenon is explained
within the framework of the Stommel scheme of the general circulation of waters in the World Ocean . Ac-
cording to this scheme, the global thermohaline circulation cell is formed mainly as a result of the convection of
cold deep waters at the sites of their formation in the North Atlantic (later, they spread over the entire water area
of the World Ocean) and the compensating transport of relatively warm waters of the thermocline to the north
There are three basic procedures used to assess the meridional heat transport in the ocean. The first proce-
dure is based on the analysis of heat balance in the ocean–atmosphere system under the assumption that this bal-
ance is quasistationary [3, 5, 7, 8]. The second procedure is based on the evaluation of the divergent term in the
equation of heat balance for the oceanic thermocline [4, 6]. In the third procedure, the meridional heat transport
is computed according to the data of direct hydrological observations in zonal sections . There are also sev-
eral generalized estimates of the meridional heat transport in the Atlantic Ocean based on the analysis of all
available data of observations [12, 13]. The major part of the estimates of meridional heat transport obtained
since the mid-1970s till the late 1990s reveal the cross-equatorial heat transport in the Atlantic Ocean approxi-
Marine Hydrophysical Institute, Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, Sevastopol.
Translated from Morskoi Gidrofizicheskii Zhurnal, No.
3–15, January–February, 2006. Original article submitted December 3,
2004; revision submitted December 14, 2004.
0928-5105/06/1601–0001 © 2006 Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 1