Evaluation of an eddy resolving HYCOM simulation in the South Atlantic Ocean

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

The South Atlantic Ocean acts as a key region of ocean teleconnections and water mass transformation, directly transporting waters from the Southern, Pacific and Indian Oceans towards the North Atlantic and feeding the upper branch of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation. To date, this region remains under sampled over long time periods. Models form useful platforms for the wholistic study of such regions where long term datasets are not available. However, it is important to first gauge to what extent the model deviates from available observations. In a detailed analysis, this study evaluates an eddy resolving 1/12° HYbrid Coordinate Ocean Model simulation in the South Atlantic and Agulhas regions with reference to available observations and literature. The outcomes of this research contribute to improving the configurations of future ocean models by identifying the limitations of the model analysed. In addition, analysis of the 50 year (1960-2009) simulation reveals that, in this model simulation, mesoscale activity and sea surface temperature trends in the Cape Basin are not related to Agulhas Current transport changes. These findings highlights the need for long term observational databases and further research into climate related trends and interannual variability of the ocean, in particular around Southern Africa.

Includes bibliographical references.