Variability of the Subtropical Front in the Indian Ocean south of Australia
A detailed high resolution survey of a small region (68 × 68 km) of the Subtropical Front south of Australia over a period of 14 days is used to study the interaction between the mixed layer and the permanent frontal structure underneath during summer conditions. The front extends through the mixed layer as a salinity front, while its temperature structure is modified by seasonal warming. Wind-driven movement of the mixed layer combines with the short-time development of indentations and filaments in the front to produce some degree of decoupling between the mixed layer and the underlying structure, and the front is not always found at the same location in and below the mixed layer. Intrusions and parcels of distinct water properties are found just below the mixed layer, produced as a result of the relative movement of the front in and below the mixed layer. These parcels are typically 10 km in width and 10–50 m in depth. Successive surveys of the front with a time separation of 2 days showed that these features persist over at least 1 week. Large scale surveys of the front show that parcels are ubiquitous along the Subtropical Front over a distance of several hundred kilometres. The results suggest that any study aimed at understanding the intricate interaction between the mixed layer and the layers below in oceanic fronts will have to address wind-driven dynamics and frontal dynamics together.
KeywordsFront Mixing South Indian Ocean
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