Offshore Transport of Shelf Waters through Interaction of Vortices with a Shelfbreak Current Academic Article uri icon


  • Abstract Interactions between vortices and a shelfbreak current are investigated, with particular attention to the exchange of waters between the continental shelf and slope. The nonlinear, three-dimensional interaction between an anticyclonic vortex and the shelfbreak current is studied in the laboratory while varying the ratio ? of the maximum azimuthal velocity in the vortex to the maximum alongshelf velocity in the shelfbreak current. Strong interactions between the shelfbreak current and the vortex are observed when ? > 1; weak interactions are found when ? < 1. When the anticyclonic vortex comes in contact with the shelfbreak front during a strong interaction, a streamer of shelf water is drawn offshore and wraps anticyclonically around the vortex. Measurements of the offshore transport and identification of the particle trajectories in the shelfbreak current drawn offshore from the vortex allow quantification of the fraction of the shelfbreak current that is deflected onto the slope; this fraction increases for increasing values of ?. Experimental results in the laboratory are strikingly similar to results obtained from observations in the Middle Atlantic Bight (MAB); after proper scaling, measurements of offshore transport and offshore displacement of shelf water for vortices in the MAB that span a range of values of ? agree well with laboratory predictions.

publication date

  • May 1, 2013