A numerical study of the Magellan Plume.

Published in Journal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres , v.117(C5)

Palma, E.D. and Matano, R.P.

Publication year 2012
DOI https://doi.org/10.1029/2011JC007750
  • Departamento de Fisica and Instituto Argentino de Oceanografía,CONICET, Universidad Nacional del Sur, Bahia Blanca, Argentina.
  • College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon StateUniversity, Corvallis, Oregon, USA
IAI Program


IAI Project CRN3070


In this modeling study we investigate the dynamical mechanisms controlling the spreading of the Magellan Plume, which is a low‐salinity tongue that extends along the Patagonian Shelf. Our results indicate that the overall characteristics of the plume (width, depth, spreading rate, etc.) are primarily influenced by tidal forcing, which manifests through tidal mixing and tidal residual currents. Tidal forcing produces a homogenization of the plume's waters and an offshore displacement of its salinity front. The interaction between tidal and wind‐forcing reinforces the downstream and upstream buoyancy transports of the plume. The influence of the Malvinas Current on the Magellan Plume is more dominant north of 50°S, where it increases the along‐shelf velocities and generates intrusions of saltier waters from the outer shelf, thus causing a reduction of the downstream buoyancy transport. Our experiments also indicate that the northern limit of the Magellan Plume is set by a high salinity discharge from the San Matias Gulf. Sensitivity experiments show that increments of the wind stress cause a decrease of the downstream buoyancy transport and an increase of the upstream buoyancy transport. Variations of the magnitude of the discharge produce substantial modifications in the downstream penetration of the plume and buoyancy transport. The Magellan discharge generates a northeastward current in the middle shelf, a recirculation gyre south of the inlet and a region of weak currents father north.