Continental Shelf Processes
Quantifying the oceanographic processes on the continental shelf and slope of South East Australia is a key research area of the NSW-IMOS Node.
The Eat Australian Current (EAC) accelerates off northern New South Wales where the continental shelf off Smoky Cape (~31ºS) narrows by half in less than 0.5º latitude, to just 16 km wide. The acceleration pushes up cool nutrient rich water. Further uplifting is facilitated by the strength of the EAC, the eddies, topography and summer north-easterly winds (Roughan and Middleton 2002). In addition to the EAC inducing mixing through interactions with topographic features, tides interact with these features generating internal tides and waves, which are a significant source of mixing. These structures are complex and an understanding of these processes is essential for development of an understanding of the regional physical oceanography, for future physical model developments and as a supporting science for other marine disciplines and for atmospheric studies.
Key Science Questions
- Examine the coastal wind and wave climate in driving nearshore currents and the northward sediment transport.
- Quantify the biogeochemical cycling of carbon (nutrients and phytoplankton composition).
- Determine the transport and dispersal of passive particles (e.g. larvae, eggs, spores) and the degree of along coast connectivity and trophic linkages.