National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2013

Gliders measure western boundary current transport from the South Pacific to the equator

Davis, R.E., W.S. Kessler, and J.T. Sherman

J. Phys. Oceanogr., 42(11), 2001–2013, doi: 10.1175/JPO-D-12-022.1 (2012)

“Spray” gliders, most launched from small boats near shore, have established a sustainable time series of equatorward transport through the Solomon Sea. The first 3.5 years (mid-2007 through 2010) are analyzed. Coast-to-coast equatorward transport through the Solomon Sea fluctuates around a value of 15 Sv (1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1) with variations approaching ±15 Sv. Transport variability is well correlated with El Niño indices like Niño-3.4, with strong equatorward flow during one El Niño and weak flow during two La Niñas. Mean transport is centered in an undercurrent focused in the western boundary current; variability has a two-layer structure with layers separated near 250 m (near the core of the undercurrent) that fluctuate independently. The largest variations are in midbasin, confined to the upper layer, and are well correlated with ENSO. Analysis of velocity and salinity on isopycnals shows that the western boundary current within the Solomon Sea consists of a deep core coming from the Coral Sea and a shallow core that enters the Solomon Sea in mid basin. Analysis of the structure of transport and its fluctuations is presented.

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