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The net water circulation in the far Northern Great Barrier Reef
Wolanski, E.; Lambrechts, J. (2020). The net water circulation in the far Northern Great Barrier Reef. Est., Coast. and Shelf Sci. 235: 106569. https://hdl.handle.net/10.1016/j.ecss.2019.106569
In: Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science. Academic Press: London; New York. ISSN 0272-7714; e-ISSN 1096-0015, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keyword
    Marine
Author keywords
    Currents; Mean sea level; Wind; Waves; Reefs; Oceanic exchange

Authors  Top 
  • Wolanski, E., more
  • Lambrechts, J., more

Abstract
    The 500 km long Far Northern Great Barrier Reef (FNGBR) is a semi-enclosed sea with little connectivity with the rest of the GBR further South. Its mean circulation is controlled by the prevailing southeasterly (northwestward) wind that generates a wind-driven mean longshore flow that is enabled by an inflow of oceanic water in the South. From an examination of single-point, mid-depth current meter data at ten sites over one year, it appears that there is no net current during calm weather, which implies that the northward North Queensland Coastal Current in the adjoining Coral Sea does not intrude in the FNGBR. Only about 20–40% of the wind-driven longshore transport continues northward to exit the FNGBR through Torres Strait because of blockage by reefs, shoals and islands and by the tidal friction effect in shallow waters. The remaining 60–80% of the flow appears to be deflected seaward to the Coral Sea in the North, an observation that appears to be supported by oceanographic modelling. This situation differs from that in the central and southern Great Barrier Reef where the southward flowing East Australian Current intrudes on the shelf and generates a net current even during calm weather.

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