Generation and unstable evolution of a density-driven Eastern Poleward Current: The Iberian Poleward Current

Álvaro Peliz, Jesus Dubert, Dale B. Haidvogel, Bernard Le Cann

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122 Scopus citations


The generation and evolution of a density-driven Eastern Poleward Current is investigated using a high-resolution primitive equation numerical model. The simulations focus on the Iberian Poleward Current (IPC) as a case study. The flow is generated by a meridional upper ocean density gradient balanced by an eastward surface-intensified flow that adjusts at the coastal margin. The resulting current system has a baroclinic character with poleward flow at the surface layer, and equatorward flow underneath. A few weeks after initialization, the sheared along-slope flow generates several vorticity structures downstream of the main topographic features. In the lee of the topography, persistent anticyclones are observed and deep cyclogenesis is induced in relation to the meandering of the upper layer jet. These structures evolve preferentially as cyclone/ anticyclone eddy pairs, and after interaction some dipoles are ejected offslope. Within a period of a few months, the initial meridional gradient evolves into a complex system of fronts, eddies and slope flows. The dynamics of flow topography interaction is analyzed. A comparison with satellite imagery of the IPC is conducted and similarity in scales and patterns is noted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)24-1 - 24-19
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 15 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


  • Eastern Poleward Currents
  • Iberian Poleward Current
  • Mesoscale eddy shedding
  • Slope flows
  • Swoddies
  • Topographic steering


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