Annual and semiannual cycle of equatorial Atlantic circulation associated with basin mode resonance.

Brandt, Peter , Claus, Martin , Greatbatch, Richard John , Kopte, Robert, Toole, John M., Johns, William E. and Böning, Claus W. (2016) Annual and semiannual cycle of equatorial Atlantic circulation associated with basin mode resonance. Open Access Journal of Physical Oceanography, 46 (10). pp. 3011-3029. DOI 10.1175/JPO-D-15-0248.1.

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Seasonal variability of the tropical Atlantic circulation is dominated by the annual cycle, but semi-annual variability is also pronounced, despite weak forcing at that period. Here we use multi-year, full-depth velocity measurements from the central equatorial Atlantic to analyze the vertical structure of annual and semi-annual variations of zonal velocity. A baroclinic modal decomposition finds that the annual cycle is dominated by the 4th mode and the semi-annual cycle by the 2nd mode. Similar local behavior is found in a high-resolution general circulation model. This simulation reveals that the annual and semi-annual cycles of the respective dominant baroclinic modes are associated with characteristic basin-wide structures. Using an idealized linear reduced-gravity model to simulate the dynamics of individual baroclinic modes, it is shown that the observed circulation variability can be explained by resonant equatorial basin modes. Corollary simulations of the reduced-gravity model with varying basin geometry (i.e. square basin versus realistic coastlines) or forcing (i.e. spatially uniform versus spatially variable wind) show a structural robustness of the simulated basin modes. A main focus of this study is the seasonal variability of the Equatorial Undercurrent (EUC) as identified in recent observational studies. Main characteristics of the observed EUC including seasonal variability of transport, core depth, and maximum core velocity can be explained by the linear superposition of the dominant equatorial basin modes as obtained from the reduced-gravity model.

Document Type: Article
Funder compliance: info:eu-repo/grantAgreement/EC/FP7/603521
Keywords: RV Meteor, M68/2, M80/1, M106, RV Atalante, ATA IFMGEOMAR/4, RV Maria S. Merian, MSM18/2, MSM22; Atlantic Ocean; Ocean circulation; In situ oceanic observations; Ocean models; Seasonal cycle; Tropical variability
Research affiliation: OceanRep > SFB 754 > A4
OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB1 Ocean Circulation and Climate Dynamics > FB1-TM Theory and Modeling
OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB1 Ocean Circulation and Climate Dynamics > FB1-PO Physical Oceanography
OceanRep > SFB 754
Kiel University
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: No
DOI etc.: 10.1175/JPO-D-15-0248.1
ISSN: 0022-3670
Related URLs:
Date Deposited: 20 Jul 2016 13:19
Last Modified: 04 Aug 2020 09:22

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