Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract The results of a macro-scale oceanographic survey conducted in the upstream and downstream regions of the Prince Edward Islands in austral autumn (April/May) 1989 are presented. During the investigation, the Subantarctic Front, upstream of the islands, was shown to lie initially south at 46°38′S, while downstream, the front remained in a northern position of approximately 46°S. Surface expressions of the front show that the Subantarctic Front forms a zonal band, while the subsurface expressions (200 m) show a distinct meander in both regions. In the upstream region of the islands, the northern branch of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, the Subantarctic Front, influenced by the shallow bathymetry, was deflected around the northern edge of the islands. Water masses in this region were shown to modify gradually from Subantarctic Surface Water (7°C, 33.75) to Antarctic Surface Water (5°C, 33.70) as the Polar Frontal Zone was crossed. Downstream of the islands a wake was formed resulting in the generation of broad, cross-frontal meanders. As a consequence, warm Subantarctic Surface Water from north of the Subantarctic Front was advected southwards across the Polar Frontal Zone, while cooler waters, which had been modified in the transitional band of the Polar Frontal Zone, were advected northwards. In the downstream region a warm eddy consisting of Subantarctic Surface Water was observed. Its generation is possibly due to baroclinic instabilities in the meandering wake. Zooplankton species composition and distribution patterns during the investigation were consistent with the prevailing oceanographic regime. Four distinct groupings of stations were identified by numerical analysis. These corresponded to stations found north of the Subantarctic Front, within the warm eddy, located in the Polar Frontal Zone, and those stations associated with the meander. The groupings were separated by the Subantarctic Front, which appears to represent an important biogeographic boundary to the distribution of warm-water zooplankton species. Warm eddies in the downstream region of the islands may represent an effective mechanism for transporting warm water species across the Subantarctic Front.
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