Wavelet Analysis of Near-Inertial Currents at the East Flower Garden Bank
NAVAL RESEARCH LAB STENNIS DETACHMENT STENNIS SPACE CENTER MS OCEANOGRAPHY DIV
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Near-inertial currents NICs often dominate the mean circulation at the East Flower Garden Bank EFGB, part of the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. The EFGB, one of several submerged coral reefs, is located in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico, about 190 km southeast of Galveston, Texas. The bank is about 6 km wide in the east west direction and rises to within about 20 m from the surface. NICs near the EFGB are described using current data from 5 acoustic Doppler current profilers that were moored at the edges of the bank and on top of the bank for about a year. A wavelet analysis was used in order to better describe the nonstationarity of the NICs. NICs were strongest during spring and summer due to their near resonant response with sea breeze and the shallowness of the mixed layer, and exhibited a first-baroclinic-mode vertical structure. NICS were generally larger near the surface and extended to the bottom on the west side of the EFGB but only to within about 20 m of the bottom on the eastern side of the bank. NIC ellipses were nearly circular and rotated clockwise above the top of the EFGB but became flatter and aligned with the bathymetry with increasing depth occasionally, on the eastern side of the bank, the NIC vectors rotated counterclockwise due to probable effects of lee vortices arising from the mean flow interacting with the bank. Most energy input by the wind at the surface was likely transferred downward through divergence of the meridional flow against the coastal boundary. The inertial currents were at times more energetic than the mean flow, and often accounted for more than 50 of the total current energy.
- Physical and Dynamic Oceanography