Dynamics of the Ningaloo Current off Point Cloates, Western Australia

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    Abstract

    The Ningaloo Current (NC) is a wind-driven, northward-flowing current present during the summer months along the continental shelf between the latitudes of 22 degrees and 24 degrees S off the coastline of Western Australia. The southward flowing Leeuwin Current is located further offshore and flows along the continental shelf break and slope, transporting warm, relatively fresh, tropical water poleward. A recurrent feature, frequently observed in satellite images ( both thermal and ocean colour), is an anti-clockwise circulation located offshore Point Cloates. Here, the seaward extension of the coastal promontory blocks off the broad, gradual southern shelf, leaving only a narrow, extremely steep shelf to the north. The reduction in the cross-sectional area, from the coast to the 50m contour, between southward and northward of the promontory is similar to 80%. Here, a numerical model study is undertaken to simulate processes leading to the development of the recirculation feature offshore Point Cloates. The numerical model output reproduced the recirculation feature and indicated that a combination of southerly winds, and coastal and bottom topography, off Point Cloates is responsible for the recirculation. The results also demonstrated that stronger southerly winds generated a higher volume transport in the NC and that the recirculation feature was dependent on the wind speed, with stronger winds decreasing the relative strength of the recirculation.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)291-301
    JournalMarine and Freshwater Research
    Volume57
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2006

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