Leaky slope waves and sea level: unusual consequences of the beta-effect along western boundaries with bottom topography and dissipation

Wise, Anthony; Hughes, Chris W. ORCID:; Polton, Jeff A. ORCID:; Huthnance, John M. ORCID: 2020 Leaky slope waves and sea level: unusual consequences of the beta-effect along western boundaries with bottom topography and dissipation. Journal of Physical Oceanography, 50 (1). 217-237.

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Coastal Trapped Waves (CTWs) carry the ocean’s response to changes in forcing along boundaries, and are important mechanisms in the context of coastal sea level and the meridional overturning circulation. Motivated by the western boundary response to high latitude and open ocean variability, we investigate how the latitude dependence of the Coriolis parameter (β-effect), bottom topography, and bottom friction, modify the evolution of western boundary CTWs and sea level using a linear, barotropic model. For annual and longer period waves, the boundary response is characterized by modified Shelf Waves and a new class of leaky Slope Waves that propagate alongshore, typically at an order slower than Shelf Waves, and radiate short Rossby waves into the interior. Energy is not only transmitted equatorward along the slope, but also eastward into the interior, leading to the dissipation of energy locally and offshore. The β-effect and friction result in Shelf and Slope Waves that decay alongshore in the direction of the equator, decreasing the extent to which high latitude variability affects lower latitudes, and increasing the penetration of open ocean variability onto the shelf - narrower continental shelves and larger friction coefficients increase this penetration. The theory is compared against observations of sea level along the North American east coast and qualitatively reproduces the southward displacement and amplitude attenuation of coastal sea level relative to the open ocean. The implications are that the β-effect, topography, and friction are important in determining where along the coast sea level variability hot spots occur.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 0022-3670
Date made live: 16 Jan 2020 15:20 +0 (UTC)

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