Wind-driven rising of deep water in the Southern Ocean plays an equally important role in the global ocean circulation as the traditionally considered sinking in the North Atlantic, reports a review article published online this week in Nature Geoscience. The review suggests that - given the ocean’s capacity for storing heat and carbon - Southern Ocean upwelling is a central aspect of the climate system. John Marshall and Kevin Speer have revised and updated the iconic conveyor belt depiction of the global ocean circulation, based on quantitative and qualitative insights gained over the past decades. The updated schematic emphasizes the importance of winds and small-scale swirling ocean currents, known as eddies, in governing Southern Ocean upwelling, which emerges as a key component of the climate system through its role in the exchange of carbon dioxide and heat between the ocean and the atmosphere.
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