Dynamics of the equatorial undercurrent and its termination
Wacongne, Sophie H. C.
MetadataShow full item record
LocationAtlantic Equatorial Undercurrent
This study focuses on the zonal weakening, eastern termination and seasonal variations of the Atlantic equatorial undercurrent (EUC). The main and most original contribution of the dissertation is a detailed analysis of the Atlantic EUC simulated by Philander and Pacanowski's (1986) general circulation model (GCM), which provides a novel description of the dynamical regimes governing various regions of a nonlinear stratified undercurrent. Only in a narrow deep western region of the simulation does one find an approximately inertial regime corresponding to zonal acceleration. Elsewhere frictional processes cannot be ignored. The bulk of the mid-basin model EUC terminates in the overlying westward surface flow while only a small fraction (the deeper more inertial layers) terminates at the eastern coast. In agreement with observations, a robust feature of the GCM not present in simpler models is the apparent migration of the EUC core from above the thermocline in the west to below it in the east. In the GCM, this happens because the eastward flow is eroded more efficiently by vertical friction above the base of the thermocline than by lateral friction at greater depths. This mechanism is a plausible one for the observed EUC. A scale analysis using a depth scale which decreases with distance eastwards predicts the model zonal transition between western inertial and eastern inertio-frictional regimes. Historical and recent observations and simple models of the equatorial and coastal eastern undercurrents are reviewed, and a new analysis of current measurements in the eastern equatorial Atlantic is presented. Although the measurements are inadequate for definitive conclusions, they suggest that Lukas' (1981) claim of a spring surge of the Pacific EUC to the eastern coast and a seasonal branching of the EUC into a coastal southeastward undercurrent may also hold for the Atlantic Ocean. To improve the agreement between observed and modelled strength of the eastern undercurrent, it is suggested that the eddy coefficient of horizontal mixing should be reduced in future GCM simulations.
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution January 1988
Showing items related by title, author, creator and subject.
Understanding the ocean carbon and sulfur cycles in the context of a variable ocean : a study of anthropogenic carbon storage and dimethylsulfide production in the Atlantic Ocean Levine, Naomi M. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, 2010-02)Anthropogenic activity is rapidly changing the global climate through the emission of carbon dioxide. Ocean carbon and sulfur cycles have the potential to impact global climate directly and through feedback loops. Numerical ...
Casey, Kevin D. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, 1988-06)Two approaches to determining the ocean sound speed profile using measured acoustic modal eigenvalues are examined. Both methods use measured eigenvalues and mode dependent assumed values of the WKB phase integral as ...
Trace element geochemistry of oceanic peridotites and silicate melt inclusions : implications for mantle melting and ocean ridge magmagenesis Johnson, Kevin T. M. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, 1990-06-15)The mantle melting process is fundamental to basalt genesis and crustal accretion at mid-ocean ridges. It is believed that melts ascend more rapidly than the surrounding mantle, implying a process similar to fractional ...