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Eddy properties in the Mozambique Channel: A comparison between observations and two numerical ocean circulation models
Halo, I.; Backeberg, B.; Penven, P.; Ansorge, I.; Reason, C.; Ullgren, J.E (2014). Eddy properties in the Mozambique Channel: A comparison between observations and two numerical ocean circulation models. Deep-Sea Res., Part II, Top. Stud. Oceanogr. 100: 38-53. dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.dsr2.2013.10.015
In: Deep-Sea Research, Part II. Topical Studies in Oceanography. Pergamon: Oxford. ISSN 0967-0645, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Author keywords
    Cyclonic/anticyclonic eddies; Ocean models; Altimetry

Authors  Top 
  • Halo, I.
  • Backeberg, B.
  • Penven, P.
  • Ansorge, I.
  • Reason, C.
  • Ullgren, J.E, more

Abstract
    Analysis of satellite altimetry observations, transports estimates from a mooring array, as well as output from two different numerical ocean circulation models (ROMS and HYCOM), have been used to investigate the mesoscale eddy properties and transport variability in the Mozambique Channel. The power spectral density of model transports at 17 S indicates the models ability to represent the transport variability at mesoscale frequencies (range between 3 yr(-1) and 10 yr(-1)). The models have shown an exaggerated representation of the lower frequencies (<3 yr(-1)), while underestimating the higher frequency signals (> 10 yr(-1)). The overestimation of the seasonal cycle appears in our case not to be related to a misrepresentation of the mesoscale variability. The eddies were identified using an automatic eddy tracking scheme. Both anticyclonic and cyclonic eddies appeared to have a preferred site of formation within the channel. The density distribution showed that the anticyclones exhibited a bi-modal distribution: the first mode was associated with the typical scale for the oceanic mesoscale turbulence, while the second mode was related to the passage of large rings at a frequency of about 4-7 per year. On the other hand, cyclonic eddies had a single mode distribution that follows the first baroclinic Rossby radius of deformation, which is a typical scale for the oceanic mesoscale surface eddy variability, suggesting that their formation is associated with baroclinic instability. Eddy mean amplitudes per class of radius (< 100 km), increase linearly with increasing radius, while no linear relationship exists for the rings. Different from the rings, the increase in the amplitude of the eddies was consistent with the increase of their life expectancy and travelling distances.

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