Properties of Red Sea coastal currents

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Churchill, James H.
Lentz, Steven J.
Farrar, J. Thomas
Abualnaja, Yasser
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Red Sea
Coastal flows
Basin-shelf interaction
Properties of coastal flows of the central Red Sea are examined using 2 years of velocity data acquired off the coast of Saudi Arabia near 22 °N. The tidal flow is found to be very weak. The strongest tidal constituent, the M2 tide, has a magnitude of order 4 cm s−1. Energetic near-inertial and diurnal period motions are observed. These are surface-intensified currents, reaching magnitudes of >10 cm s−1. Although the diurnal currents appear to be principally wind-driven, their relationship with the surface wind stress record is complex. Less than 50% of the diurnal current variance is related to the diurnal wind stress through linear correlation. Correlation analysis reveals a classical upwelling/downwelling response to the alongshore wind stress. However, less than 30% of the overall sub-inertial variance can be accounted for by this response. The action of basin-scale eddies, impinging on the coastal zone, is implicated as a primary mechanism for driving coastal flows.
© The Author(s), 2014. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License. The definitive version was published in Continental Shelf Research 78 (2014): 51–61, doi:10.1016/j.csr.2014.01.025.
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Continental Shelf Research 78 (2014): 51–61
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