National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2015

Basin-wavelength equatorial deep jet signals across three oceans

Youngs, M.K., and G.C. Johnson

J. Phys. Oceanogr., 45(8), 2134–2148, doi: 10.1175/JPO-D-14-0181.1 (2015)

Equatorial Deep Jets (EDJs) are equatorially trapped, stacked, zonal currents that reverse direction every few hundred meters in depth throughout much of the water column. This study evaluates their structure observationally in all three oceans using new high vertical resolution Argo float conductivity-temperature-depth (CTD) instrument profiles from 2010–2014 augmented with historical shipboard CTD from 1972–2014 and lower vertical resolution Argo float profiles from 2007–2014. Vertical strain of density is calculated from the profiles and analyzed in a stretched vertical coordinate system determined from the mean vertical density structure. The power spectra of vertical strain in each basin are analyzed using a wavelet decomposition. In the Indian and Pacific oceans, there are two distinct peaks in the power spectra, one Kelvin-wave-like and the other entirely consistent with the dispersion relation of a linear first-meridional-mode equatorial Rossby wave. In the Atlantic Ocean, the first-meridional-mode Rossby wave signature is very strong, and dominates. In all three ocean basins Rossby-wave-like signatures are coherent across the basin width, and appear to have wavelengths the scale of the basin width, with periods of about 5 years in the Indian and Atlantic oceans and about 12 years in the Pacific Ocean. Their observed meridional scales are about 1.5 times the linear theoretical values. Their phase propagation is downward with time, implying upward energy propagation if linear wave dynamics hold.

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