Role of bathymetry in Agulhas Current configuration and behaviour - art. no. L23611

Type Article
Date 2006-12
Language English
Author(s) Speich Sabrina1, Lutjeharms J. R. E.2, Penven P3, Blanke Bruno4
Affiliation(s) 1 : Univ Bretagne Occidentale, UFR Sci, Lab Phys Ocean, UMR 6523, F-29238 Brest 3, France.
2 : Univ Cape Town, Dept Oceanog, ZA-7700 Rondebosch, South Africa.
3 : IFREMER, Ctr Brest, IRD, F-29280 Plouzane, France.
Source Geophysical Research Letters (0094-8276) (American Geophysical Union), 2006-12 , Vol. 33 , N. 23 , P. NIL_39-NIL_43
DOI 10.1029/2006GL027157
WOS© Times Cited 36
Keyword(s) Inter ocean exchange, Inter ocean flux, Thermohaline circulation, Southwest Africa, Agulhas current
Abstract The Agulhas Current forms an important link in the global ocean thermohaline circulation by its role in the interocean exchange of water south of Africa. This process of ring shedding at the current's retroflection is dependent on perturbations to its trajectory that are sensitive to bathymetry. These perturbations may furthermore force the current to intersect shallow regions resulting in substantial changes to its path. A number of other flow characteristics of the system have also been deemed to be influenced by bathymetry. How dependent is Agulhas Current behaviour therefore on the bottom topography? We have used a regional, primitive equation model for initial experimentation. Removing the Agulhas Bank leads to enhanced interocean flux, indicating its importance for inter-ocean exchange. Excising the Agulhas Plateau causes meridional meanders in the Agulhas Return Current to be unlocked from the bathymetry. Smoothing the continental slope weakens the current and substantially increases the direct inter-ocean flux.
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