The Agulhas System plays a significant role in the global ocean circulation and climate. Warm, saline waters from the Indian Ocean flow into the Atlantic as part of the interocean exchange around the southern tip of Africa. Ongoing increases in this so-called Agulhas Leakage, presently under anthropogenic forcing, could strengthen the global overturning circulation in the Atlantic at a time when warming and accelerated meltwater input in the North Atlantic are predicted to weaken it. However compared to processes in the North Atlantic, the Agulhas system has been largely ignored as a potential trigger or stabilizer of climate variability.

At regional scales the Agulhas influences extreme weather events while interannual rainfall variations in southern Africa are correlated with warm and cold anomalies in the Agulhas system, associated with the Indian Ocean climate modes. Large Marine Ecosystems in the region and the distribution of large pelagic species and their fisheries are also influenced by variations in the physical Agulhas system in an as yet poorly known manner.

The purpose of this Chapman conference is to identify the most pressing questions and to design modeling experiments in combination with paleoceanographic and (sustained) modern observations to establish the role of the Agulhas system from regional to global scales.