A baroclinic western boundary current over a continental slope
Abstract:Baroclinic flow over a western continental slope is investigated using a simple model in which inertia is completely neglected and the temperature of the ocean depends only on horizontal position. Solutions of this model are also solutions of the three-dimensional equations without inertia. This model is arguably the simplest model in which the Joint Effect of Baroclinicity and Relief (JEBAR) can affect the mass transport on the slope. Offshore, we suppose that a classical double-gyre circulation exists, in which the subpolar gyre is colder than the subtropical gyre. Using asymptotic expansions based on small viscosity and small thermal diffusivity, we show analytically that a thin baroclinic current, or front, forms on the slope. The baroclinic current flows across the slope from south to north and shallow to deep. Recirculating gyres are formed on both flanks of the current, and the extent to which both the baroclinic current and the gyres resemble the observed flow in the Western North Atlantic is discussed.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: May 1, 2000
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