Marine Science Faculty Publications

Meanders and Long Waves in the Equatorial Atlantic

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Observations from the GATE Equatorial Oceanographic Experiment are presented. They reveal large scale meandering of the westward flowing South Equatorial Current and of the eastward flowing Equatorial Undercurrent with time scales of 2–3 weeks. Meandering of the flow pattern was found to be related to corresponding displacements of the high salinity core of the undercurrent. The observations tend to support the assumption of a long wave propagating westward with a phase speed of 2.3 m s−1 and a wavelength of 3,200 km. A possible explanation may be given in terms of unstable waves caused by large scale horizontal shear in the Equatorial Current System.

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Nature, v. 257, p. 280-284