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Coherence of Western Boundary Pressure at the RAPID WAVE Array: Boundary Wave Adjustments or Deep Western Boundary Current Advection?

Shane ElipotNational Oceanography Centre, Liverpool, United Kingdom

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Chris HughesNational Oceanography Centre, Liverpool, United Kingdom

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Sofia OlhedeUniversity College London, London, United Kingdom

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John TooleWoods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, Massachusetts

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Abstract

This study investigates the coherence between ocean bottom pressure signals at the Rapid Climate Change programme (RAPID) West Atlantic Variability Experiment (WAVE) array on the western North Atlantic continental slope, including the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Line W. Highly coherent pressure signals propagate southwestward along the slope, at speeds in excess of 128 m s−1, consistent with expectations of barotropic Kelvin-like waves. Coherent signals are also evidenced in the smaller pressure differences relative to 1000-m depth, which are expected to be associated with depth-dependent basinwide meridional transport variations or an overturning circulation. These signals are coherent and almost in phase for all time scales from 3.6 years down to 3 months. Coherence is still seen at shorter time scales for which group delay estimates are consistent with a propagation speed of about 1 m s−1 over 990 km of continental slope but with large error bounds on the speed. This is roughly consistent with expectations for propagation of coastally trapped waves, though somewhat slower than expected. A comparison with both Eulerian currents and Lagrangian float measurements shows that the coherence is inconsistent with a propagation of signals by advection, except possibly on time scales longer than 6 months.

Corresponding author address: Shane Elipot, National Oceanographic Centre, Joseph Proudman Building, 6 Brownlow Street, Liverpool, L35DA, United Kingdom. E-mail: shane.elipot@noc.ac.uk

Abstract

This study investigates the coherence between ocean bottom pressure signals at the Rapid Climate Change programme (RAPID) West Atlantic Variability Experiment (WAVE) array on the western North Atlantic continental slope, including the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Line W. Highly coherent pressure signals propagate southwestward along the slope, at speeds in excess of 128 m s−1, consistent with expectations of barotropic Kelvin-like waves. Coherent signals are also evidenced in the smaller pressure differences relative to 1000-m depth, which are expected to be associated with depth-dependent basinwide meridional transport variations or an overturning circulation. These signals are coherent and almost in phase for all time scales from 3.6 years down to 3 months. Coherence is still seen at shorter time scales for which group delay estimates are consistent with a propagation speed of about 1 m s−1 over 990 km of continental slope but with large error bounds on the speed. This is roughly consistent with expectations for propagation of coastally trapped waves, though somewhat slower than expected. A comparison with both Eulerian currents and Lagrangian float measurements shows that the coherence is inconsistent with a propagation of signals by advection, except possibly on time scales longer than 6 months.

Corresponding author address: Shane Elipot, National Oceanographic Centre, Joseph Proudman Building, 6 Brownlow Street, Liverpool, L35DA, United Kingdom. E-mail: shane.elipot@noc.ac.uk
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