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The Effect of Salinity on Density in the Leeuwin Current System.

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Master's thesis,

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Climatological temperature and salinity fields are used to calculate the salinity contribution to density and dynamic height fields in the Leeuwin Current System LCS. While the temperature gradient is primarily linear, with warmest water to the north, the salinity fields are spatially inhomogenous. A comparison of density fields, calculated with constant and variable salinity, shows that, off Western Australia, the density field is primarily determined by temperature. Off Southern Australia, the density field is dependent on warm and salty subtropical and fresh and cold sub-Antarctic water masses. While the dynamic height fields, calculated with constant and variable salinity, show similar flow patterns off Western Australia, different flow patterns are found off Southern Australia. In addition to the analysis of climatological fields, a primitive equation ocean model is used to investigate the role of salinity in the formation of currents and eddies in the LCS. Two identical ocean models, one with a climatological salinity field and the other with no horizontal salinity gradients, are run and compared with each other. Despite the model runs being initialized with similar temperature distributions, there are relatively large temperature and density differences in the Southern Australian region, due to the advection of water masses by the Leeuwin Current. Based on the climatological analyses and the results of the model experiments, it is concluded that, descriptively and dynamically, both temperature and salinity are essential to accurately characterize the large-scale circulation of the LCS.

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  • Physical and Dynamic Oceanography

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