Variability and forcing of the East Australian Current

Melissa M. Bowen, John L. Wilkin, William J. Emery

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86 Scopus citations


The spatial and temporal variability of the East Australian Current (EAC) is investigated using 6 years (1993-1998) of surface geostrophic stream function from an optimal interpolation of altimeter sea surface heights and velocities derived from tracking thermal features in satellite imagery. Variability appears as a series of cyclones and anticyclones propagating southwestward and westward with periods between 90 and 180 days. The behavior of the variability changes over the 6 years. Energy in the mesoscale frequencies moves slowly south and diminishes with more westward propagation in the region where the current separates from the coast. We find no evidence for a consistent forcing of the EAC by mesoscale signals propagating westward from the South Pacific basin. We suggest that the observations are consistent with variability originating between 32°S and 35°S through intrinsic instabilities of the current.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberC03019
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 8 2005

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


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