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Free Content A two-layer Gulf Stream over a continental slope

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We consider the two-layer form of the planetary geostrophic equations, in which a simple Rayleigh friction replaces the inertia, on a western continental slope. In the frictionless limit, these equations can be written as characteristic equations in which the potential vorticities of the top and bottom layers play the role of Riemann invariants. The general solution is of two types. In the first type, the characteristics can cross, and friction is required to resolve the resulting shocks. In the second type, one of the two Riemann invariants is uniform, the remaining characteristic is a line of constant f/H, and the solutions take a simple explicit form. A solution resembling the Gulf Stream can be formed by combining three solutions of the second type. Compared to the corresponding solution for homogeneous fluid, the Gulf Stream and its seaward countercurrent are stronger, and the latter is concentrated in a thin frictional layer on the eastern edge of the Stream.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 1992

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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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