Frontal eddies along a western boundary current

Ribbe, Joachim and Toaspern, Liv and Wolff, Jörg-Olaf and Azis Ismail, Mochamad Furqon (2018) Frontal eddies along a western boundary current. Continental Shelf Research, 165. pp. 51-59. ISSN 0278-4343

Abstract

Cyclonic frontal eddies are distinguishable from the surrounding water due to their unique biological and physical characteristics and have been observed in all western boundary current regions. These eddies spawn from cut-off meanders and are found on the landward side of the current. Here, we report for the first time observed frontal eddies for the intensification zone (north of 28 oS) of the East Australian Current (EAC) off Southeast Queensland, Australia, by analysing remotely sensed sea surface temperature (SST) and chlorophyll-a (Chl-a) data. The frontal eddies were detected initially in the analysis of satellite tracked surface drifters. The shelf-crossing cyclonic drifter pathways indicated the presence of drifter-trapping cyclonic frontal eddies. The subsequent analysis of satellite images allows to quantify key eddy characteristics, cross-shelf volume transports associated with eddy filaments, eddy-driven shelf water renewal time scales, and export of total Chl-a and carbon per day. The observed frontal eddies have core radii of approximately 13 km and 15 km. The cold core surface SST anomaly and elevated chl-a indicates eddy entrainment of shelf water. The translational or core displacement velocity is estimated with 0.17 m.s-1 or 15 km per day and the tangential velocity quantified from tracking surface drifters is 0.28 m.s-1 to - 0.5 m.s-1. This results in a rotational period of 1.9 days to 3.9 days. We use maximum Chl-a and SST gradients to approximate the width of importing and exporting filaments associated with the frontal eddy to derive volume transports of 1.5 Sv and 1.9 Sv (import) and 0.3 Sv and 1.8 Sv (export), respectively. Chl-a concentrations of the exporting filaments are about 0.4 mg.m-3 to 0.6 mg.m-3 yielding a total export of 13 t to 78 t of Chl-a per day. The frontal eddy induced on-shelf transport of 130 km3 - 160 km3 per day represents between 18 % and 22 % of the shelf volume. Therefore, it would take approximately five days to renew all shelf water. We conclude that the observed frontal eddies of the northern intensification zone of the EAC potentially play an important role in determining cross-shelf exchanges, contribute to on-shelf marine conditions, enhancing coastal primary productivity and are possibly important to the export of shelf water properties such as the fish larvae of subtropical species via entrainment.


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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Restricted access to published version in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.
Faculty / Department / School: Current - Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences - School of Agricultural, Computational and Environmental Sciences
Date Deposited: 11 Jul 2018 06:48
Last Modified: 11 Jul 2018 06:48
Uncontrolled Keywords: western boundary current; frontal eddy; cross-shelf transport; drifter, sea surface temperature; chlorophyll-a; East Australian Current
Fields of Research : 04 Earth Sciences > 0405 Oceanography > 040503 Physical Oceanography
Socio-Economic Objective: D Environment > 96 Environment > 9611 Physical and Chemical Conditions of Water > 961102 Physical and Chemical Conditions of Water in Coastal and Estuarine Environments
Identification Number or DOI: 10.1016/j.csr.2018.06.007
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/34406

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