The role of mesoscale eddies in the source regions of the Agulhas Current.

Biastoch, Arne and Krauß, Wolfgang (1999) The role of mesoscale eddies in the source regions of the Agulhas Current. Open Access Journal of Physical Oceanography, 29 . pp. 2303-2317. DOI 10.1175/1520-0485(1999)029<2303:TROMEI>2.0.CO;2.

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A primitive equation model to study the dynamics of the Agulhas system has been developed. The model domain covers the South Atlantic and the south Indian Ocean with a resolution of ⅓° in the Agulhas region while coarser outside. It is driven by a climatology of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts. It is shown that the model simulates the Agulhas Current, its retroflection, and the ring shedding successfully. The model results show baroclinic anticyclonic eddies in the Mozambique Channel and east of Madagascar, which travel toward the northern Agulhas Current. After the eddies reach the current they are advected southward with the mean flow. Due to the limited numerical resolution only a few eddies reach the retroflection region without much modification. These eddies are responsible for drastic enhancement of the heat transfer from the Indian Ocean to the South Atlantic and lead to periodicities in the interoceanic heat transport of about 50 days superimposed on the seasonal variability. Combined satellite data from TOPEX/Poseidon and ERS-1 show that the observed vortices in the Mozambique Channel are comparable to those seen in the model. In contrast to this the simulated eddies east of Madagascar seem not to be well reproduced. Analyses of the energy conversion terms between the mean flow and the eddies suggest that barotropic instability plays an important role in the generation of Mozambique Channel eddies. For the generation of Agulhas rings and other eddy structures in the model the barotropic instability mechanism seems to be minor, and baroclinic instability mechanisms are more likely.

Document Type: Article
Research affiliation: OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB1 Ocean Circulation and Climate Dynamics > FB1-TM Theory and Modeling
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: No
Publisher: AMS (American Meteorological Society)
Date Deposited: 18 Feb 2008 17:24
Last Modified: 04 Aug 2020 09:50

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