TERRAPUB Journal of Oceanography

Journal of Oceanography, Vol. 66 (No. 2), pp. 243-258, 2010

Characteristics of Coastal Trapped Waves along the Southern and Eastern Coasts of Australia

Kazuyuki Maiwa1*, Yukio Masumoto2 and Toshio Yamagata2

1Ocean Policy Research Foundation, Toranomon, Minato-ku, Tokyo 105-0001, Japan
2Department of Earth and Planetary Science, Graduate School of Science, University of Tokyo, Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-0033, Japan

(Received 22 October 2008; in revised form 31 October 2009; accepted 1 November 2009)

Abstract: The spatial structures and propagation characteristics of coastal trapped waves (CTWs) along the southern and eastern coasts of Australia are investigated using observed daily mean sea level data and results from a high-resolution ocean general circulation model (OGCM), and by conducting sensitivity studies with idealized numerical models. The results obtained from the sea level observations show that short-term variations, with a typical period of 1 to 2 weeks, dominate the sea level variability in the southern half of Australia. The signal propagates anticlockwise around Australia with a propagation speed of 4.5 m/s or faster in the western and southern coasts and 2.1 to 3.6 m/s in the eastern coast. Strong seasonality of the wave activity, with large amplitude during austral winter, is also observed. It turns out that the waves are mainly generated by synoptic weather disturbances in the southwestern and southeastern regions. The numerical experiment with idealized wind forcing and realistic topography confirms that the propagating signals have characteristics of the CTW both in the southern and eastern coasts. Sensitivity experiments demonstrate that the difference in the phase speed between the coasts and reduction of the amplitude of the waves in the eastern coast are attributed to the different shape of the continental shelf in each region. The structures and the propagation characteristics of the CTWs around Australia are well reproduced in OFES (OGCM for the Earth Simulator) with dominant contribution from the first mode, although meso-scale eddies may modify the structure of the CTWs in the eastern coast. It is also found that generation or reinforcement of the waves by the wind forcing in the southern part of the eastern coast is necessary to obtain realistically large amplitude of the CTWs in the eastern coast.

*Corresponding author E-mail: k-maiwa@sof.or.jp

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