On the flow through broad gaps with application to the windward passage.

D. Nof, D. B. Olson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The flow through broad passages connecting oceans and marginal seas is examined by a simplified two layer analytical model. Attention is focussed on the flow resulting from the difference between the upper layer depth in the two basins which imposes a presure gradient along the passage. The model is frictionless, hydrostatic and nondiffusive but the movements within the gap are not constrained to be quasi-geostrophic in the sense that the local Rossby number is not necessarily small and the interface displacements are of the same order as the upper layer depth. Steady solutions for the upstream and downstream fields are obtained analytically using the momentum equation in an integrated form, the Bernoulli integral and conservation of potential vorticity. It is found that the transport through the gap is independent of the gap's width. Upstream the oceanic water approaches the gap only from one direction. Upon reaching the gap, the approaching current splits into two branches. A possible application of this theory to the flow from the Atlantic Ocean into the Caribbean Sea via the Windward Passage is discussed. The observed locations, positions and directions of both upstream and downstream flow agree with the model predictions. In addition, the predicted transport through the passage ( 12 x 10 SUP 6 m SUP 3s SUP 1) is approximately equal to the observed transport. (from authors' abstract)

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1940-1956
Number of pages17
Issue number10 , Oct. 1983
StatePublished - 1983
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography


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