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The Effects of Wind Forcing on Surface Currents on the Continental Shelf Surrounding Rottnest Island

Authors: Jennifer Penton, Charitha Pattiaratchi


Surface currents play a major role in the distribution of contaminants, the connectivity of marine populations, and can influence the vertical and horizontal distribution of nutrients within the water column. This paper aims to determine the effects of sea breeze-wind patterns on the climatology of the surface currents on the continental shelf surrounding Rottnest Island, WA Australia. The alternating wind patterns allow for full cyclic rotations of wind direction, permitting the interpretation of the effect of the wind on the surface currents. It was found that the surface currents only clearly follow the northbound Capes Current in times when the Fremantle Doctor sets in. Surface currents react within an hour to a change of direction of the wind, allowing southerly currents to dominate during strong northerly sea breezes, often followed by mixed currents dominated by eddies in the inter-lying times.

Keywords: HF radar, surface currents, sea breeze.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI):

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