The Agulhas Current System as an Important Driver for Oceanic and Terrestrial Climate

Arne Biastoch*, Siren Rühs, Ioana Ivanciu, Franziska u. Schwarzkopf, Jennifer Veitch, Chris Reason, Eduardo Zorita, Nele Tim, Birgit Hünicke, Athanasios t. Vafeidis, Sara Santamaria-Aguilar, Sunna Kupfer, Felix Soltau

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


The Agulhas Current system around South Africa combines the dynamics of strong ocean currents in the Indian Ocean with eddy–mean flow interactions. The system includes an associated interoceanic transport towards the Atlantic, Agulhas leakage, which varies on both interannual and decadal timescales. Agulhas leakage is subject to a general increase under increasing greenhouse gases, with higher leakage causing a warming and salinification of the upper ocean in the South Atlantic. The far-field consequences include the impact of the Agulhas Current on the Benguela Upwelling system, a major eastern boundary upwelling system that supports a lucrative fishing industry. Through sea surface temperatures and associated air–sea fluxes, the Agulhas Current system also influences regional climate in southern Africa, leading to a heterogeneous pattern of rainfall over southern Africa and to a reduction of precipitation in most areas under global warming conditions. Changes in the Agulhas Current system and the regional climate also cause changes in regional sea-level and wind-induced waves that deviate from global trends. Combining these oceanic changes with extreme precipitation events, global warming can considerably amplify flood impacts along the coast of South Africa if no adaptation measures are implemented.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSustainability of Southern African Ecosystems under Global Change
EditorsG.P. von Malnitz, G.F. Midgley, J. Veitch, C. Brümmer, R.P. Rötter, F.A. Viehberg, M. Veste
EditionEcological Studies
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-031-10948-5
ISBN (Print)978-3-031-10947-8, 978-3-031-10950-8
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jan 2024

Publication series

NameSustainability of Southern African Ecosystems under Global Change
ISSN (Print)0070-8356
ISSN (Electronic)2196-971X


  • Ocean
  • Global warming
  • South
  • Africa
  • Sea-level rise
  • Coastal impact


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