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Free Content On the role of topography in the ocean circulation

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The ideas developed by Rhines and Young (1982a,b) are used to analyze the effect of topography in simple baroclinic models. The presence of longitude-dependent topography induces strong internal jets with transports of the same magnitude as the interior flow. It is shown that the existence of these features is independent of the forcing structure at the top of the model ocean, of the topography form and of the forcing in subsurface layers as long as the latter is small. Some examples are given both for forcings which, in the absence of topography, would give circulations closed in the interior and for forcings that require a western boundary current.

Topography also shifts the line of zero transport allowing for significant flow across the line of zero wind stress curl. Moreover, the lines dividing the subtropical gyre from the subpolar gyre are different in every layer, a feature absent in the flat bottom case.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 1986

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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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