Author Posting. © American Meteorological Society, 2009. This article is posted here by permission of American Meteorological Society for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Journal of Physical Oceanography 39 (2009): 1541-1550, doi:10.1175/2008JPO3999.1.
The response of a zonal channel to a uniform, switched-on but subsequently steady poleward outflow is presented. An eastward coastal current with a Kelvin wave’s cross-shore structure is found to be generated instantly upon initiation of the outflow. The current is essentially in geostrophic balance everywhere except for the vicinity of the outflow channel mouth, where the streamlines must cross planetary vorticity contours to feed the current. The adjustment of this region generates a plume that propagates westward at Rossby wave speeds. The cross-shore structure of the plume varies with longitude, and at any given longitude it evolves with time. The authors show that the plume evolution can be understood both conceptually and quantitatively as the westward propagation of the Kelvin current’s meridional spectrum, with each spectral element propagating at its own Rossby wave group velocity.
This work was completed at Woods
Hole Oceanographic Institution while T.S. Durland was
supported by the Ocean and Climate Change Institute.
M.A. Spall was supported by NSF Grant OCE-0423975,
and J. Pedlosky by NSF Grant OCE-0451086. T.S.
Durland acknowledges additional report preparation
support from NASA Grant NNG05GN98G.
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