A Local Time-Dependent Sverdrup Balance in the Eastern North Pacific Ocean

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Science  23 Aug 1985:
Vol. 229, Issue 4715, pp. 754-756
DOI: 10.1126/science.229.4715.754


Direct observations of the dynamic balance between time-dependent winds and deep ocean currents are described for the eastern North Pacific Ocean at 42°N, 152°W. Currents from 150 to 4000 meters below the surface at frequencies from 0.01 to 0.1 cycle per day are significantly correlated with the wind stress curl derived from U.S. Navy operational wind fields. The horizontal currents are depth-independent below 300 meters, and they flow parallel to the potential vorticity gradient derived from the earth's rotation and the large-scale bottom topography. These characteristics are expected for such periodic motions with horizontal scales larger than 500 kilometers and represent a generalized Sverdrup balance between the atmospheric forcing and the oceanic response.