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What drives the oceanic circulation ? Thermohaline driven Wind driven.

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Presentation on theme: "What drives the oceanic circulation ? Thermohaline driven Wind driven."— Presentation transcript:

1 What drives the oceanic circulation ? Thermohaline driven Wind driven

2 some of the observed main global surface current systems.

3 Ocean waters respond to the wind stress because of their low resistance to shear (low viscosity, even after viscosity magnification by turbulence) and because of the relative consistency with which winds blow over the ocean. Good examples are the trade winds in the tropics; they are so steady that, shortly after Christopher Columbus and until the advent of steam, ships chartered their courses across the Atlantic according to those winds; hence their name. Further away from the tropics are winds blowing in the opposite direction. While trade winds blow from the east and slightly toward the equator, midlatitude winds blow from west to east and are called westerlies.

4 The water column can be broadly divided into four segments: At the top lies the mixed layer that is stirred by the surface wind stress. With a depth on the order of 10 m, this layer includes Ekman dynamics and is characterized by d rho/dz ≃ 0. Below lies a layer called the seasonal thermocline, a layer in which the vertical stratification is erased every winter by convection. Its depth is on the order of 100 m. Below the maximum depth of winter convection is the main thermocline, which is permanently stratified. Ist thickness is on the order of 500 to 1000 m. The rest of the water column, which comprises most of the ocean water, is the abyssal layer. It is very cold, and its movement is very slow.

5 History The discipline began with the seminal works of Harald Sverdrup, who formulated the equations of large-scale ocean dynamics (Sverdrup, 1947) and Henry Stommel beginning with the first correct theory for the Gulf Strean (Stommel, 1948).


7 Basic equations Geostrophy Hydrostatic balance continuity equation (mass conservation for an incompressible fluid) conservation of heat and salt (density)

8 Definitions u, v and w are the velocity components in the eastward, northward and upward directions, rho0 is the reference density (a constant), rho is the density anomaly, the difference between the actual density and rho0, p is the hydrostatic pressure induced by the density anomaly This set of five equations for five unknowns (u, v, w, p and rho) is sometimes referred to as Sverdrup dynamics.

9 Sverdrup Relation vertical stretching (+), or squeezing (-) demands a change in meridional velocity Pressure eliminated Conservation of mass Streching -> shrink laterally -> (zeta+f)/h requires vorticity to increase The parcel has no choice but to migrate meridionally in search for a ``better f´´ df/dt= ß v

10 Sverdrup Balance

11 Ekman the vertical flow from the surface Ekman layer into the geostrophic interior is

12 … relates the integral meridional flow throughout the vertical extent of the treated layer to the local windstress curl. Sverdrup Balance

13 we can introduce a Sverdrup streamfunction Sverdrup Balance

14 Being that the curl is negative throughout the subtropics, it follows that the meridional flux must be everywhere equatorward. But such a situation, if sustained, will progressively empty the midlatitude oceans, while piling-up more and more water along the Equator; a clear physical impossibility! There must be somewhere a return poleward flow that `drains' the Equatorial region while replenishing the midlatitude missing volume.

15 Boundary Current The vorticity generation by the interactions of boundary currents: northward-flowing boundary current, The sense of the generated vorticity is shown for northern hemisphere flows.

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