Marine Science Faculty Publications

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Energetic 90-day oscillations of sea level have been intermittently observed at Wake Island in the western tropical Pacific during the past 2 decades. The oscillations tend to occur about 1.5 years after El Niño-Southern Oscillation events, to have amplitudes of 10–15 cm, and to persist for about 1 year. Sea surface heights from the Geosat altimeter are used to establish that these signals take the form of Rossby waves and have an energy source near the Big Island of Hawaii, which lies 40° of longitude to the east. Sea level and upper layer currents from an eddy-resolving numerical model are examined and suggest that the energy source is eddies generated off the Big Island of Hawaii. These eddies appear to be associated with westward currents that intermittently impinge on the island. Several alternate hypotheses are also discussed and rejected.

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Geophysical Research Letters Oceans, v. 100, issue C2, p. 2459-2475

©1995. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.

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