Dynamics of the combined extra-equatorial and equatorial deep jets in the Atlantic
The available meridional sections of zonal velocity with high vertical and meridional resolution reveal tall eastward jets at 2N and 2S, named the extra-equatorial jets (EEJ), straddling the stacked eastward and westward jets of smaller vertical scales right at the equator, the so-called equatorial deep jets (EDJ). In contrast to the semi-annual to interannual fluctuations in the zonal velocity component, the measured meridional velocity component is dominated by intraseasonal period. We argue here that the formation mechanism for both types of jets is linked to the intraseasonal variability in meridional velocity and the associated wave motions. A process study is complemented by high resolution primitive equation simulations based on a realistic background stratification and an oscillating forcing inside the western boundary layer. The forcing confined to the upper 2500 m excites a spectrum of waves, including a baroclinic short Mixed Rossby-Gravity (MRG), whose instability leads to the formation of the EDJ and short barotropic Rossby waves, whose instability gives rise to the EEJ. The modeled EEJ and EDJ response is confined to the same depth range as the forcing. Potential vorticity is homogenized within specific depth ranges of westward EDJ and is found to be latitudinally confined between 2N and 2S by the EEJ. The combined EDJ and EEJ increase lateral mixing at the equator but also act as barriers at ±2 degrees of latitude.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: May 1, 2009
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