Major Boundary Currents and Inter-basin Flows
A key research focus for the NSW-IMOS Node is to investigate the East Australian Current (EAC), its separation from the coast, and the resultant eddy field along the coast of South East Australia.
The East Australian Current (EAC) is the major western boundary current of the South Pacific Gyre, flowing from the southern Coral Sea and along the northern NSW coast (Ridgway & Dunn 2003). The EAC is Australia’s largest current and is typically 30 km wide, 200 m deep and travelling up to 4 knots.
The core of the EAC is centred over the continental slope, although its coastal presence is felt by eddy encroachment. Our knowledge of processes at the shelf break is very limited. By comparison to the knowledge of the behaviour and variability of other western boundary currents there has been a significant lack of investigation into the EAC and its eddy field, for a current renowned for its mesoscale variability.
Key Science Questions
- To determine the frequency, form and function (horizontal and vertical) of EAC eddies.
- To understand air sea interactions, particularly to determine the development of East Coast Lows and severe winter storms in relation to warm core eddies.
- Quantify the impact of key physical processes such as onshore encroachment of the EAC, slope water intrusions, upwelling, downwelling and internal waves.