Sea Level and the role of coastal trapped waves in mediating the influence of the open ocean on the coast

Hughes, Chris W. ORCID:; Fukumori, Ichiro; Griffies, Stephen M.; Huthnance, John ORCID:; Minobe, Shoshiro; Spence, Paul; Thompson, Keith R.; Wise, Anthony. 2019 Sea Level and the role of coastal trapped waves in mediating the influence of the open ocean on the coast. Surveys in Geophysics, 40 (6). 1467-1492.

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The fact that ocean currents must flow parallel to the coast leads to the dynamics of coastal sea level being quite different from the dynamics in the open ocean. The coastal influence of open-ocean dynamics (dynamics associated with forcing which occurs in deep water, beyond the continental slope) therefore involves a hand-over between the predominantly geostrophic dynamics of the interior ocean and the ageostrophic dynamics which must occur at the coast. An understanding of how this hand-over occurs can be obtained by considering the combined role of coastal trapped waves and bottom friction. We here review understanding of coastal trapped waves, which propagate cyclonically around ocean basins along the continental shelf and slope, at speeds which are fast compared to those of baroclinic planetary waves and currents in the open ocean (excluding the large-scale barotropic mode). We show that this results in coastal sea-level signals on western boundaries which, compared to the nearby open-ocean signals, are spatially smoothed, reduced in amplitude, and displaced along the coast in the direction of propagation of coastal trapped waves. The open-ocean influence on eastern boundaries is limited to signals propagating polewards from the equatorial waveguide (although a large-scale diffusive influence may also play a role). This body of work is based on linearised equations, but we also discuss the nonlinear case. We suggest that a proper consideration of nonlinear terms may be very important on western boundaries, as the competition between advection by western boundary currents and a counter-propagating influence of coastal trapped waves has the potential to lead to sharp gradients in coastal sea level where the two effects come into balance.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 0169-3298
Date made live: 25 Nov 2019 16:51 +0 (UTC)

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