Statistical description of the east Australian current low-frequency variability from the world Ocean circulation experiment PCM3 current meter array

Mata, Mauricio Magalhães; Wijffels, Susan; Church, John; Tomczak, Matthias


Thein situdataset used in the current study consists of the Pacific Current Meter 3 (PCM3) array,which was a significant part of the Australian contribution to the World Ocean Circulation Experiment to studythe variability of the East Australian Current (EAC), and was operational between September 1991 and March1994. Area-preserving spectral analysis has been used to investigate the typical time scales observed by the currentmeters. As a general rule, the spectra from the top layers of the shallow (1, 2 and 3) and the deep (4, 5 and 6)moorings have a distinct peak in the temporal mesoscale band (periods between 70 and 170 days), with a generalredistribution of energy towards the higher-frequencies near the ocean floor. This peak has been linked with eddyvariability of the EAC system, which influences the fluctuations of the current main jet. The vertical modes of thevelocity profile show that the strong surface-intensified baroclinic signal of the EAC dominated the variability atmooring 4 location. Further offshore the predominant configuration resembles more closely the barotropic mode.Ultimately, spatial empirical orthogonal functions (EOF) analysis point out the impact of the presence/absence ofthe EAC jet in the array.

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