A numerical investigation of the Southern Gyre using ROMS


By Majambo Gamoyo, Chris J.C. Reason, Charine Collins • 2017

A numerical model (The Regional Ocean Modelling System—ROMS), configured over the western Indian Ocean and driven by monthly climatology winds and heat fluxes, is applied to examine the Southern Gyre in the Somali Current system during the Southwest Monsoon. Despite the Southern Gyre playing a role in transporting water masses and other properties northwards across the equator, it has not been much studied. The model results indicate that the Southern Gyre appears in early June in the upper ocean as a result of instability in the northward flowing Somali Current. The arrival of downwelling Rossby wave energy at the East African coast intensifies the recirculation of the Southern Gyre and causes its northward movement. The Southern Gyre is characterized as a shallow feature which deepens from 100 m in June to 300 m in July–August. The average spatial scale of the gyre is about 400 km with subsequent development of positive vorticity bursts which are identified as potential contributors to the decay of the Southern Gyre. Cool and fresh waters observed in the gyre resulted from advection via the South Equatorial Current and then through the Somali Current (SC).

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