Generation of Near-Inertial Currents on the Mid-Atlantic Bight by Hurricane Arthur (2014)

Fan Zhang, Ming Li, Travis Miles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations


Near-inertial currents (NICs) were observed on the Mid-Atlantic Bight (MAB) during the passage of Hurricane Arthur (2014). High-frequency radars showed that the surface currents were weak near the coast but increased in the offshore direction. The NICs were damped out in 3–4 days in the southern MAB but persisted for up to 10 days in the northern MAB. A Slocum glider deployed on the shelf recorded two-layer baroclinic currents oscillating at the inertial frequency. A numerical model was developed to interpret the observed spatial and temporal variabilities of the NICs and their vertical modal structure. Energy budget analysis showed that most of the differences in the NICs between the shelf and the deep ocean were determined by the spatial variations in wind energy input. In the southern MAB, energy dissipation quickly balanced the wind energy input, causing a rapid damping of the NICs. In the northern MAB, however, the dissipation lagged the wind energy input such that the NICs persisted. The model further showed that mode-1 waves dominated throughout the MAB shelf and accounted for over 70% of the current variability in the NICs. Rotary spectrum analyses revealed that the NICs were the largest component of the total kinetic energy except in the southern MAB and the inner shelf regions with strong tides. The NICs were also a major contributor to the shear spectrum over an extensive area of the MAB shelf and thus may play an important role in producing turbulent mixing and cooling of the surface mixed layer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3100-3116
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Forestry
  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology


  • continental shelf
  • energy budget
  • hurricane
  • mixing
  • near-inertial currents
  • shear

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