Coastal density currents forced by cooling events

Graham Symonds, Robert Gardiner-Garden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

21 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

During winter months continental shelf waters are convectively cooled and shallow coastal regions become colder than deeper offshore waters where the same surface heat flux is distributed over a larger depth. The resulting temperature front adjusts to geostrophic equilibrium producing transient cross-shelf currents which decay with time as the system approaches a steady state. Additional short duration cooling events associated with the passage of local weather systems may be sufficient to re-establish the vertical orientation of the temperature front which will readjust to geostrophic equilibrium once the cooling event has ceased, producing transient cross-shelf circulation associated with the adjustment process. Observations of a temperature front in the entrance of a shallow bay on the southeastern coast of Australia are shown to be consistent with a two-dimensional time dependent numerical model. The model includes stratification and realistic bottom topography and is forced by surface cooling, which produces a temperature front which adjusts to geostrophic equilibrium. Numerical simulation of cooling events is shown to produce transient cross-shelf velocities of order 0.001-0.01 m s-1.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-157
Number of pages15
JournalContinental Shelf Research
Volume14
Issue number2-3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1994

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