Seasonal and Interannual Variations of the European Slope Current

Weidong Xu (Plymouth Marine Laboratory, United Kingdom)


Peter Miller (PML, United Kingdom); Graham Quartly (PML, United Kingdom); Robin Pingree (PML, United Kingdom)

Event: 2014 Ocean Surface Topography Science Team Meeting

Session: Science Results from Satellite Altimetry: Regional and basin-scale processes and sea level rise

Presentation type: Type Poster

The European Slope Current is a poleward flow along the western edge of the European continental shelf, whose transport of heat adds to the northward flow conveyed by the North Atlantic Current. In an analysis of the mean of a full 20 years of altimetry data there is a clear continuous feature running northwards up the western side of the Iberian peninsula, cyclonically around the Bay of Biscay, up the west coast of Ireland and past the north of Scotland, although the picture for individual months is far less clear. The altimetry records broadly agree with moored ADCPs on the shelf edge, although magnitudes from altimetry are smaller than the in situ measurements because of the broader spatial smoothing within the gridded altimetry product.

There is a clear seasonal modulation of the currents, with peak poleward flow in December-January and a minimum in June-July. We examined the winter flow at 8 key sections along the continental shelf, and found that in all cases anomalies in the seasonal flow are correlated with the state of the North Atlantic Oscillation. Elsewhere in the northeast Atlantic we were able to resolve 4 branches of the North Atlantic Current, and clarify the locations of 5 anticyclonic eddies, 3 of which are persistent features, with the others being absent in some seasons.

Weidong Xu
Plymouth Marine Laboratory
United Kingdom