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Large-Amplitude Internal Solitary Waves in the North Equatorial Countercurrent

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  • 1 Institut für Meereskunde, Universität Kiel, Kiel, Germany
  • | 2 Institut für Meereskunde, Universität Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
  • | 3 Institut für Meereskunde, Universität Kiel, Kiel, Germany
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Abstract

The analysis of high-resolution oceanographic data referring to velocity measurements carried out by means of a vessel-mounted acoustic Doppler current profiler on 12 November 2000 in the equatorial Atlantic, at 44°W between 4.5° and 6°N, reveals the presence of three large-amplitude internal solitary waves superimposed on the velocity field associated with the North Equatorial Countercurrent (NECC). These waves were found in the deep ocean, more than 500 km off the continental shelf and far from regions of topographic variations. They propagated toward the north-northeast, strongly inclined with respect to the main axis of the NECC and perpendicular to the Brazilian shelf, as well as to the North Brazil Current, and were characterized by maximum horizontal velocities of about 2 m s−1 and maximum vertical velocities of about 20 cm s−1. The large magnitudes of the measured velocities indicate that the observed waves represent disturbances evolving in a strongly stratified ocean. The distance separating the waves (about 70 km) indicates that the observed features cannot be considered as elements of a single train of internal solitary waves. The waves consist, instead, of truly disconnected, pulselike intense solitary disturbances. This behavior, which strongly differs from that typically observed for trains of tidally generated internal solitary waves, indicates that different mechanisms were possibly involved in their generation and/or evolution.

Current affiliation: Dipartimento di Scienze Ambientali dell' Università Ca' Foscari di Venezia, Venice, Italy

Corresponding author address: Peter Brandt, Institut für Meereskunde an der Universität Kiel, Düsternbrooker Weg 20, 24105 Kiel, Germany. Email: pbrandt@ifm.uni-kiel.de

Abstract

The analysis of high-resolution oceanographic data referring to velocity measurements carried out by means of a vessel-mounted acoustic Doppler current profiler on 12 November 2000 in the equatorial Atlantic, at 44°W between 4.5° and 6°N, reveals the presence of three large-amplitude internal solitary waves superimposed on the velocity field associated with the North Equatorial Countercurrent (NECC). These waves were found in the deep ocean, more than 500 km off the continental shelf and far from regions of topographic variations. They propagated toward the north-northeast, strongly inclined with respect to the main axis of the NECC and perpendicular to the Brazilian shelf, as well as to the North Brazil Current, and were characterized by maximum horizontal velocities of about 2 m s−1 and maximum vertical velocities of about 20 cm s−1. The large magnitudes of the measured velocities indicate that the observed waves represent disturbances evolving in a strongly stratified ocean. The distance separating the waves (about 70 km) indicates that the observed features cannot be considered as elements of a single train of internal solitary waves. The waves consist, instead, of truly disconnected, pulselike intense solitary disturbances. This behavior, which strongly differs from that typically observed for trains of tidally generated internal solitary waves, indicates that different mechanisms were possibly involved in their generation and/or evolution.

Current affiliation: Dipartimento di Scienze Ambientali dell' Università Ca' Foscari di Venezia, Venice, Italy

Corresponding author address: Peter Brandt, Institut für Meereskunde an der Universität Kiel, Düsternbrooker Weg 20, 24105 Kiel, Germany. Email: pbrandt@ifm.uni-kiel.de

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