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Thermohaline circulation of shallow tidal seas
Hill, A. E.; Brown, J.; Fernand, L.; Holt, J.; Horsburgh, K. J.; Proctor, R.; Raine, R.; Turrell, W. R.
The mechanisms controlling the temperature and salinity structure of shallow continental shelf seas have been understood for over thirty years, yet knowledge of what drives their large-scale circulation has remained relatively unknown. Here we describe a decade long programme of measurements, using satellite-tracked drifting buoys on the northwest European shelf, to draw attention to a striking picture of highly organised thermohaline circulation consisting of narrow, near surface, fast flowing jets. These are ubiquitous above sharp horizontal gradients in bottom temperatures and/or salinities. The circulation phenomena we describe are likely to be prevalent on all similar, wide, tidally energetic continental shelves including those off north-eastern China, Argentina and parts of the Arctic. The robust, repeatable observation of the key role of jets above bottom fronts results in a fundamental reassessment of how we view the dynamics of shelf seas.
Keyword(s): european continental-shelf; western irish sea; fronts; gyre
Publication Date:
Type: Journal article
Peer-Reviewed: Unknown
Institution: NUI Galway
Publisher(s): Wiley-Blackwell
First Indexed: 2019-03-23 06:31:28 Last Updated: 2019-03-23 06:31:28