South African Journal of Science
On-line version ISSN 1996-7489
The ocean currents and their variability south of Africa are known to cover a wide spectrum, spatially and possibly temporally. Hydrographic observations in this vast ocean region are logistically demanding and expensive. In recent years the prevalence of drifting buoys has allowed one to infer certain current characteristics for the region that otherwise would be difficult. Observations from satellite-tracked drifters drogued at a depth of 15 m, collected between 1988 and 2005, were used to infer the mean surface circulation and kinetic energy distributions of the surface flow in the African sector of the Southern Ocean between 30 and 60°S. Regions of intensified flow and of higher levels of eddy kinetic energy were identified and agree fairly well with those established from remote sensing products. These results confirm the value of these observations and indicate the increasing usefulness of this data set as the number of drifter tracks increases.