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Free Content A baroclinic western boundary current over a continental slope

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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.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 May 2000

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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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