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Free Content Continental-shelf-scale model of the Leeuwin Current

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A simple model is presented for the poleward eastern boundary current (the Leeuwin Current) off Western Australia. For continental-shelf length-scales and seasonal time-scales, the advective and time-derivative terms are small, and water flows onto the shelf until a sufficient cross-shelf pressure gradient is set up to push the same flux back. In a rotating system, the return flux takes place in a frictional (Ekman) layer at the bottom, and is synonymous with a near-bottom longshore current B, from

CD|B|B = ∫O−H 1/ ∂p/∂y dz + u2,

which is equatorward close to shore, but poleward past the 40 m isobath. If the mixed layer is deep enough, there is no upwelling, despite the upwelling-favorable winds. The light surface water is pushed down, causing a baroclinic shear enhancing the poleward current. Advection causes an intense sloping density, salinity, and tracers front. Observed u2 and Py from Western Australia predict B to be poleward in early winter at about 0.2 m s−l, and near zero in summer. The sea-level-slope gy correlates highly (r = 0.9) with the wind-stress u2 with a regression of (100 m)−1, both along Western Australia and western North America.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 1987-11-01

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  • The Journal of Marine Research publishes peer-reviewed research articles covering a broad array of topics in physical, biological and chemical oceanography. Articles that deal with processes, as well as those that report significant observations, are welcome. In the area of biology, studies involving coupling between ecological and physical processes are preferred over those that report systematics. Authors benefit from thorough reviews of their manuscripts, where an attempt is made to maximize clarity. The time between submission and publication is kept to a minimum; there is no page charge.
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