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Free Content A zero potential vorticity model of the North Brazilian Coastal Current

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The North Brazilian Coastal Current (NBCC) is idealized as an inertial, surface layer jet of equatorial origin, intruding along the coast into a northern water mass of constant, positive potential vorticity. Dissipation is accounted for by supposing that some equatorial water leaks out in the northwest corner of the intrusion. The problem is closed by adopting the free streamline boundary condition (between the northern and equatorial water masses) of continuous layer depth and velocity.

Calculations are made for flow (intruding and return) supposed parallel to the coast; this approximation is verified à posteriori. The results show a narrow intrusion region along the coast, equatorial fluid flowing northwestward next to the coast, peeling off and returning along the boundary streamline. When no leakage is postulated, the northern limit of the intrusion becomes a stagnation point where the coast and the boundary streamline meet. With substantial leakage postulated, the flow chokes at some limiting latitude, where the inviscid inertial model breaks down. However, a realistic intrusion-return flow pattern is calculated south of the choking latitude for a number of different illustrative cases. The key control parameter is the potential vorticity of the northern water mass, or in a nondimensional form, the ratio of the rest-depths, at a given latitude, of the equatorial and northern water masses.

The model accounts for a number of observed facets of NBCC behavior, notably its seasonal cycle, magnitude of the transports, intrusive and return flow.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 1985

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  • The Journal of Marine Research, one of the oldest journals in American marine science, 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. Biological studies involving coupling between ecological and physical processes are preferred over those that report systematics. The editors strive always to serve authors and readers in the academic oceanographic community by publishing papers vital to the marine research in the long and rich tradition of the Sears Foundation for Marine Research. We welcome you to the Journal of Marine Research.
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