Wind is one of the main forces driving the ocean circulation. The ocean responds to variability of the winds by generating currents that reach all the way to the ocean floor. The resulting circulation is hence strongly steered by the topography of the ocean floor. Using a combination of data analysis, model simulations, and sophisticated statistical analysis, work led by a DOE-funded scientist shows that this topographic control is particularly strong in a basin called the Australia-Antarctic Basin. They discovered very energetic and persistent flows around undersea mountain ranges and valleys. This discovery emphasizes the importance of the topography of the ocean for realistic ocean simulations.
Reference: Weijer, W., S.T. Gille, and F. Vivier. 2009. "Modal Decay in the Australia-Antarctic Basin," Journal of Physical Oceanography 39, 2893-2909. DOI: 10.1175/2009JPO4209.1.
Contact: Renu Joseph, SC-23.1, (301) 903-9237
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