Baroclinic Flow around Planetary Islands in a Double Gyre: A Mechanism for Cross-Gyre Flow Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Abstract A quasigeostrophic, two-layer model is used to study the baroclinic circulation around a thin, meridionally elongated island. The flow is driven by either buoyancy forcing or wind stress, each of whose structure would produce an antisymmetric double-gyre flow. The ocean bottom is flat. When the island partially straddles the intergyre boundary, fluid from one gyre is forced to flow into the other. The amount of the intergyre flow depends on the island constant, that is, the value of the geostrophic streamfunction on the island in each layer. That constant is calculated in a manner similar to earlier studies and is determined by the average, along the meridional length of the island, of the interior Sverdrup solution just to the east of the island. Explicit solutions are given for both buoyancy and wind-driven flows. The presence of an island of nonzero width requires the determination of the baroclinic streamfunction on the basin’s eastern boundary. The value of the boundary term is proportional to the island’s area. This adds a generally small additional baroclinic intergyre flow. In all cases, the intergyre flow produced by the island is not related to topographic steering of the flow but rather the pressure anomaly on the island as manifested by the barotropic and baroclinic island constants. The vertical structure of the flow around the island is a function of the parameterization of the vertical mixing in the problem and, in particular, the degree to which long baroclinic Rossby waves can traverse the basin before becoming thermally damped.

publication date

  • May 1, 2010