Agulhas ring formation as a barotropic instability of the retroflection

Wilbert Weijer, Volodymyr Zharkov, Doron Nof, Henk A. Dijkstra, Wilhelmus P.M. de Ruijter, Arjen Terwisscha van Scheltinga, Fred Wubs

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    Abstract

    Agulhas Leakage is an important link in the global ocean circulation, as it transfers a significant volume of relatively warm and salty water from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean. The main route of this transfer is through the shedding of large Agulhas rings from the Agulhas retroflection. In this paper we study the dynamics of the ring formation process by analyzing the stability of the Indian/Atlantic supergyre in a reduced gravity model. We show that the ring-shedding process results from a barotropic instability of the steady circulation in the Agulhas retroflection region. The destabilizing mode appears to be linked to a Rossby basin mode of the combined South Indian/Atlantic basin, which is localized in the retroflection region by the background flow.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages4
    JournalGeophysical research letters
    Publication statusPublished - 2013

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