Temperature and Salinity Variability in Thermohaline Staircase Layers

David Stuebe, S.M., 2005
Ray Schmitt, Advisor

A moored profiler record from the western tropical North Atlantic provides the first continuous time series of temperature, salinity and velocity profiles in a thermohaline staircase. Variations in the intensity of layering and the evolution of layer properties are well documented during the 4.3 month record. Such staircases are the result of strong salt fingering at the interfaces between the mixed layers, and these data provide unique insights into the dynamics of salt fingers. In particular, a striking linear correlation between the temperature and salinity of the layers may be interpreted as resulting from vertical salt finger flux divergences. Data from this record allow new interpretations of previous work on this topic by McDougall (1991).