Potential vorticity sources and sinks in a quasi-geostrophic ocean: beyond western boundary currents

Published

Journal Article

Potential vorticity dynamics for a quasi-geostropic eddy resolving general circulation model (EGCM) were studied in order to determine the effects of mesoscale variability on the potential vorticity distribution of a wind-driven ocean. The study used both Eulerian and Lagrangian analyses in the effort to describe the potential vorticity gain/loss cycle along the path of a particle. While the mean wind stress curl is the dominant potential vorticity source for the interior of the upper layer, a redistribution of eddy potential vorticity creates sources of potential vorticity for the multiple gyres in the lower layers. This redistribution is a result of the local generation of eddies via baroclinic instabilities. These eddies are advected by the western boundary current into the mid-latitude jet where they are responsible for a cross-gyre potential vorticity exchange. This exchange is concentrated at the entrance to the eastward jets where northward and southward boundary currents converge. From a Lagrangian viewpoint the vorticity exchange is accomplished via dissipative meandering rather than particle exchange across gyre fronts. (A)

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Lozier, MS; Riser, SC

Published Date

  • January 1, 1990

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 20 / 10 Oct.

Start / End Page

  • 1608 - 1627

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0022-3670

Citation Source

  • Scopus