The fate of upwelled waters in the Great Whirl, August 1995

Gary L. Hitchcock, Erica L. Key, J. Masters

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24 Scopus citations


The Great Whirl is a large, anticyclonic gyre that develops off the northern Somali coast during the Southwest Monsoon. In August 1995 the NOAA Ship Malcolm Baldrige surveyed the seaward edge of the upwelling zone associated with this gyre. The fate of recently upwelled water was followed by mapping surface property distributions along a cool surface feature that extended seaward along the northern edge of the Great Whirl. Surface properties (T, S, and chlorophyll a), surface velocity (ADCP), and XBT and CTD casts were interpreted in relation to the trajectories of three instrumented surface drifters deployed in the feature. Cool surface waters correspond in space to the shoaling of the upper thermocline and offshore advection from the coast. Surface chlorophyll a concentrations decreased from 2 to 3 μg l-1 in the Upwelling zone to 0.5-1.5 μg l-1 in the surface feature and contiguous waters. Maximum surface velocities in the Great Whirl were 250 cm s-1 with velocities > 100 cm s-1 along the northern perimeter of the gyre. Decorrelation time-scales for u and v velocity components, and chlorophyll a fluorescence, from the drifters were on the order of 4 to 7 days. These times are comparable to those over which the drifters were ejected from the Great Whirl into the Socotra Gyre. Decorrelation times for sea-surface temperature were somewhat longer (10 days). All three platforms passed between the Somali coast and Socotra within a week of their deployment and then traveled east into the northern Arabian Sea. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1605-1621
Number of pages17
JournalDeep-Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography
Issue number7-8
StatePublished - Jan 1 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography


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