Title

Sharp Frontal Interfaces in the Near-Surface Layer of the Tropical Ocean

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

11-15-2002

Publication Title

Journal of Marine Systems

Keywords

Frontal features, Gravity induced flow, T/S diagrams, Wind stress, Tropical ocean, Barrier layer

ISSN

0924-7963

Volume

37

Issue/No.

1-3

First Page

47

Last Page

68

Abstract

The small-scale structure of oceanic fronts contains important information about horizontal and vertical exchange of properties in the upper ocean. The data obtained in the western equatorial Pacific warm pool during Tropical Ocean–Global Atmosphere Coupled Ocean–Atmosphere Response Experiment (TOGA COARE) and Tropical Ocean Climate Study (TOCS) suggest that the sharp frontal interfaces occasionally observed in the upper layer of the tropical ocean may be associated with gravity currents. These gravity currents originate from the surface pools of relatively low-density (fresh and/or warm) water produced by convective rainfalls and spatially variable diurnal warming. It has been shown that frontal interfaces of less than 100 m width may interact with wind stress via the mechanism of Stommel's “overturning gate.” The anisotropy of sharp frontal interfaces with respect to the wind stress direction can be predicted with a simple nonlinear model including both dissipation and dispersion effects. This study elucidates the role of fronts in the dynamics of the tropical ocean and provides important details to the description of how the temperature–salinity relationship and barrier layer in the warm pool areas are formed.

Comments

©2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.

Additional Comments

NSF grant #s: OCE-9525986 , OCE-9730643 NSF grant:OCE-9730643.

ORCID ID

0000-0001-6519-1547

DOI

10.1016/S0924-7963(02)00195-1

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Peer Reviewed

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