Ocean Dynamics pp 445-486 | Cite as

The Wind-Driven Circulation

  • Dirk Olbers
  • Jürgen Willebrand
  • Carsten Eden


In this chapter we discuss the effects of forcing the ocean by a prescribed windstress. We will start the discussion for an ocean in steady state and constant density, followed by a consideration of the effects of stratification and topography. Important concepts and results are the Ekman layers, Ekman spiral and Ekman transport, the Sverdrup transport and the Stommel/Munk gyre models of the large-scale circulation. The impact of topography and stratification on the depth-averaged flow is introduced using the concept of the JEBAR-term and the bottom pressure torque, which are both further investigated using the model BARBI. This model represents the interaction of barotropic and baroclinic fields in a minimal way. The spin-up of the wind-driven circulation by wave processes was presented in Section 8.2.6.


Potential Vorticity Bottom Friction Subtropical Gyre Thermocline Depth Ekman Layer 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Alfred-Wegener-Institut für Polar- und MeeresforschungBremerhavenGermany
  2. 2.Leibniz-Institut für Meereswissenschaften IFM-GEOMARKielGermany
  3. 3.Institute of Marine ScienceUniversity HamburgHamburgGermany

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