Scientia Marina, Vol 65, No S1 (2001)

Vertical velocities at an ocean front


https://doi.org/10.3989/scimar.2001.65s1291

Pedro Vélez-Belchí
Instituto Español de Oceanografía - Instituto Mediterráneo de Estudios Avanzados (CSIC-UIB), Spain

Joaquín Tintoré
Instituto Mediterráneo de Estudios Avanzados (CSIC-UIB), Spain

Abstract


Simple scaling arguments conclude that the dominant motions in the ocean are horizontal. However, the vertical velocity plays a crucial role, connecting the active upper layer with the deep ocean. Vertical velocities are mostly associated with the existence of non-transient atmospheric wind forcing or with the presence of mesoscale features. The former are the well known upwelling areas, usually found at the eastern side of the oceans and characterised by upward vertical velocities. The latter have been observed more recently in a number of areas of the world´s oceans, where the vertical velocity has been found to be of the order of several tens of meters per day, that is, an order of magnitude higher than the largest vertical velocity usually observed in upwelling areas. Nevertheless, at present, vertical velocities cannot be measured and indirect methods are therefore needed to estimate them. In this paper, the vertical velocity field is inferred via the quasi-geostrophic omega equation, using density data from a quasi-permanent upper ocean front located at the northern part of the western Alborán gyre.

Keywords


vertical velocities; mesoscale circulation; upper ocean front; western Alborán gyre

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