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Free Content Dynamics of the Indonesian seas circulation. Part I – The influence of bottom topography on temperature and salinity distributions

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The influence of bottom topography on the distribution of temperature and salinity in the Indonesian seas region has been studied with a high-resolution model based on the Princeton Ocean Model. One of the distinctive properties of the model is an adequate reproduction of all major topographic features in the region by the model bottom relief. The three major routes of flow of Pacific water through the region have been identified. The western route follows the flow of North Pacific Water through the Sulawesi Sea, Makassar Strait, Flores Sea, and Banda Sea. This is the main branch of the Indonesian Throughflow. The eastern routes follow the flow of South Pacific water through the eastern Indonesian seas. This water enters the region either through the Halmahera Sea or by flowing to the north around Halmahera Island into the Morotai Basin and then into the Maluku Sea. A deep southward flow of South Pacific Water fills the Seram Sea below 1200 m through the Lifamatola Passage. As it enters the Seram Sea, this overflow turns eastward at depths greater than 2000 m, then upwells in the eastern part of the Seram Sea before returning westward at ∼1500–2000 m. The flow continues westward across the Seram Sea, spreading to greater depths before entering the Banda Sea at the Buru-Mangole passage. It is this water that shapes the temperature and salinity of the deep Banda Sea. Topographic elevations break the Indonesian seas region down into separate basins. The difference in the distributions of potential temperature, , and salinity, S, in adjacent basins is primarily due to specific properties of advection of  and S across a topographic rise. By and large, the topographic rise blocks deep flow between basins whereas water shallower than the depth of the rise is free to flow between basins. To understand this process, the structure of simulated fields of temperature and salinity has been analyzed. To identify a range of advected  or S, special sections over the sills with isotherms or isohalines and isotachs of normal velocity have been considered. Following this approach the impact of various topographic rises on the distribution of  and S has been identified. There are no substantial structural changes of potential temperature and salinity distributions between seasons, though values of some parameters of temperature and salinity distributions, e.g., magnitudes of maxima and minima, can change. It is shown that the main structure of the observed distributions of temperature and salinity is satisfactorily reproduced by the model throughout the entire domain.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2009

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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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