Structure and downstream evolution of the Agulhas Current system during a quasi-synoptic survey in February-March 2003

Tânia G.D. Cásal, Lisa M. Beal, Rick Lumpkin, William E. Johns

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21 Scopus citations


The Agulhas Undercurrent Experiment took place in February-March 2003 off the east coast of South Africa and consisted of four sections of hydrographic and velocity data across the Agulhas Current between 30 and 36°S and connecting offshore sections that formed three closed boxes. An inverse model was applied to the quasi-synoptic data, and results show that the net mass transport at the historical 32°S section had a considerably higher transport of 100 ± 9 Sv than earlier estimates. This high transport falls within the peak-to-peak variability obtained previously from a current meter time, series. Several mesoscale cyclonic eddies extending down to intermediate depths were sampled during the survey; in particular, a strong, locally formed shear edge eddy was found inshore of the • Agulhas Current at 36°S. Offshore eddies were found to drive considerable onshoreoffshore fluxes, resulting in highly variable Agulhas transports from one section to another. After attempting to account for' and remove the influence of these eddies on the Agulhas transport, the downstream growth of the Agulhas Current is found to be consistent with the Sverdrup transport variation, within errors. To account for the total magnitude of the Agulhas transport, fluxes from both the Indonesian Throughflow and Indian Ocean overturning must also be taken into account. There is no clear evidence from this study for a significant contribution of inertial recirculation to the Agulhas within this latitude range.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberC03001
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 8 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Oceanography


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