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Revisiting the circulation of the East Australian Current: its path, separation, and eddy field


Oke, PR and Roughan, M and Cetina-Heredia, P and Pilo, G and Ridgway, KR and Rykova, T and Archer, MR and Coleman, RC and Kerry, CG and Rocha, C and Schaeffer, A and Vitarelli, E, Revisiting the circulation of the East Australian Current: its path, separation, and eddy field, Progress in Oceanography, 176 Article 102139. ISSN 0079-6611 (2019) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

2019 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.pocean.2019.102139


The traditional view of the East Australian Current (EAC), as depicted in many schematics, is of a continuous boundary current that flows along the shelf off eastern Australia, between approximately 18S and about 32.5S, where it separates from the coast and continues either towards New Zealand, along the Tasman Front; or towards Tasmania, as the EAC Extension. Additionally, it is widely recognised that eddies are prevalent in the EAC region particularly south of the EAC separation. We revisit this long-standing paradigm and suggest that the EAC is perhaps better viewed as a continuous, meandering stream, flowing adjacent to the coast that "feeds" a field of mesoscale eddies. Observations show that EAC eddies are prevalent over a broad region of the western Tasman Sea, as far north as 25S, typically with maximum intensity between 30 and 35S. At any instant in time the EAC jet is usually evident as a poleward stream adjacent to the continental shelf edge. Other commonly accepted components of the EAC System, including the Tasman Front and EAC Extension, are rarely seen as distinct, identifiable features. Rather, these features are evident only in time-mean fields, when the eddy-variability is filtered out. It is also common for the EAC to be spatially discontinuous due to the presence of eddies often with multiple short streams that sometimes separate and re-attach to the coast. Recognition of the EAC as an eddy-dominated current system has seen many recent studies focus on various aspects of eddies in the EAC System, providing new insights into mesoscale ocean dynamics. Recent studies of individual eddies have shown that the circulation within eddies, including tilting and vertical motion, is more complex than previously understood. A summary of these studies, along with a review of the EAC System, particularly its path, separation, and eddy field is presented here.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:East Australian Current, ocean circulation, ocean eddies, western boundary currents
Research Division:Earth Sciences
Research Group:Oceanography
Research Field:Physical oceanography
Objective Division:Environmental Policy, Climate Change and Natural Hazards
Objective Group:Understanding climate change
Objective Field:Climate variability (excl. social impacts)
UTAS Author:Pilo, G (Miss Gabriela Semolini Pilo)
UTAS Author:Coleman, RC (Professor Richard Coleman)
ID Code:147148
Year Published:2019
Web of Science® Times Cited:47
Deposited By:Directorate
Deposited On:2021-10-14
Last Modified:2022-08-24

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