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Eddies in the southern Mozambique Channel

By G.D. Quartly and M.A. Srokosz


The Agulhas Current system contains one of the world's strongest western boundary currents, and plays an important part in the warm water path of the global thermohaline circulation. However, there have been few surveys of the source regions of the Agulhas Current, and thus little in situ measurement of their variability. Utilizing the more than 5-year record of SeaWiFS data, we examine the eddy activity present in the southern portion of the Mozambique Channel. The two sources of Agulhas input from the central Indian Ocean (southward flow through the Mozambique Channel and westward flow around the southern limit of Madagascar) both show great temporal variability, with no clear seasonal signal. A number of large (-200 km diameter) anticyclonic rings intermittently propagate poleward along the western edge of the channel, sweeping coastal waters into mid channel. Their passage past Maputo appears to affect the circulation of the lee eddy in the Delagoa Bight. The eastern side of the channel is mainly characterized by cyclonic eddies. These are made manifest in the lee of the southern tip of Madagascar, although it is not clear whether many form there or just develop a visible presence due to entrainment of high chlorophyll coastal waters. Several of these cyclonic eddies then appear to move in west-southwesterly direction. The chlorophyll data do reveal the East Madagascar retroflection on occasions, but do not show clear examples of the pinching off of anticyclonic eddies. However surface waters from the East Madagascar Current may reach the African mainland on occasions when no retroflection is present

Topics: GC
Year: 2004
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.soton.ac.uk:810
Provided by: e-Prints Soton

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