Nonlinear Gulf Stream Interaction with the Deep Western Boundary Current System: Observations and a Numerical Simulation
Dietrich, David E.
Haney, Robert L.
Bowman, Malcolm J.
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Gulf Stream (GS) separation near its observed Cape Hatteras (CH) separation location, and its ensuing path and dynamics, is a challenging ocean modeling problem. If a model GS separates much farther north than CH, then northward GS meanders, which pinch off warm core eddies (rings), are not possible or are strongly constrained by the Grand Banks shelfbreak. Cold core rings pinch off the southward GS meanders. The rings are often re-absorbed by the GS. The important warm core rings enhance heat exchange and, especially, affect the northern GS branch after GS bifurcation near the New England Seamount Chain. This northern branch gains heat by contact with the southern branch water upstream of bifurcation, and warms the Arctic Ocean and northern seas, thus playing a major role in ice dynamics, thermohaline circulation and possible global climate warming. These rings transport heat northward between the separated GS and shelf slope/Deep Western Boundary Current system (DWBC). This region has nearly level time mean isopycnals. The eddy heat transport convergence/divergence enhances the shelfbreak and GS front intensities and thus also increases watermass transformation. The fronts are maintained by warm advection by the Florida Current and cool advection by the DWBC. Thus, the GS interaction with the DWBC through the intermediate eddy field is climatologically important.
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