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Variability of the Horizontal Velocity Structure in the Upper 1600 m of the Water Column on the Equator at 10°W

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  • 1 LODYC, UMR 7617, CNRS/IRD/UPMC/MNHN, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris, France
  • | 2 LPO, UMR 6523, CNRS/IFREMER/UBO, Plouzané, France
  • | 3 LODYC, UMR 7617, CNRS/IRD/UPMC/MNHN, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris, France
  • | 4 Institut de Recherche pour le Developpement, Oceanography Department, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch, South Africa
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Abstract

This paper presents initial results from new velocity observations in the eastern part of the equatorial Atlantic Ocean from a moored current-meter array. During the “EQUALANT” program (1999–2000), a mooring array was deployed around the equator near 10°W that recorded one year of measurements at various depths. Horizontal velocities were obtained in the upper 60 m from an upward-looking acoustic Doppler current profiler (ADCP) and at 13 deeper levels from current meters between 745 and 1525 m. To analyze the quasiperiodic variability observed in these records, a wavelet-based technique was used. Quasiperiodic oscillations having periods between 5 and 100 days were separated into four bands: 5–10, 10–20, 20–40, and 40–100 days. The variability shows (i) a strong seasonality (the first half of the series is dominated by larger periods than the second one) and (ii) a strong dependence with depth (some oscillations are present in the entire water column while others are only present at certain depths). For the oscillations that are present in the entire water column the origin of the forcing can be traced to the surface, while for the others the question of their origin remains open. Phase shifts at different depths generate vertical shears in the horizontal velocity component with relatively short vertical scales. This is especially visible in long-duration events (>100 days) of the zonal velocity component. Comparison with a simultaneous lowered acoustic Doppler current profiler (LADCP) section suggests that some of these flows may be identified with equatorial deep jets. A striking feature is a strong vertical shear lasting about 7 months between 745 and 1000 m. These deep current-meter observations would then imply a few months of duration for the jets in this region.

* Current affiliation: Department of Oceanography, The Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida

Corresponding author address: Lucia Bunge, Department of Oceanography, The Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL 32306-4320. Email: bunge@ocean.fsu.edu

Abstract

This paper presents initial results from new velocity observations in the eastern part of the equatorial Atlantic Ocean from a moored current-meter array. During the “EQUALANT” program (1999–2000), a mooring array was deployed around the equator near 10°W that recorded one year of measurements at various depths. Horizontal velocities were obtained in the upper 60 m from an upward-looking acoustic Doppler current profiler (ADCP) and at 13 deeper levels from current meters between 745 and 1525 m. To analyze the quasiperiodic variability observed in these records, a wavelet-based technique was used. Quasiperiodic oscillations having periods between 5 and 100 days were separated into four bands: 5–10, 10–20, 20–40, and 40–100 days. The variability shows (i) a strong seasonality (the first half of the series is dominated by larger periods than the second one) and (ii) a strong dependence with depth (some oscillations are present in the entire water column while others are only present at certain depths). For the oscillations that are present in the entire water column the origin of the forcing can be traced to the surface, while for the others the question of their origin remains open. Phase shifts at different depths generate vertical shears in the horizontal velocity component with relatively short vertical scales. This is especially visible in long-duration events (>100 days) of the zonal velocity component. Comparison with a simultaneous lowered acoustic Doppler current profiler (LADCP) section suggests that some of these flows may be identified with equatorial deep jets. A striking feature is a strong vertical shear lasting about 7 months between 745 and 1000 m. These deep current-meter observations would then imply a few months of duration for the jets in this region.

* Current affiliation: Department of Oceanography, The Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida

Corresponding author address: Lucia Bunge, Department of Oceanography, The Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL 32306-4320. Email: bunge@ocean.fsu.edu

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