Deep (∼2000 m) observations near the Sigsbee escarpment in the Gulf of Mexico show short-period (approximately 5-12 days) energetic currents due to topographic Rossby waves (TRW's). We suggest that the phenomenon is due to the focusing and accumulation of TRW energy by the slopes coupled with a bend in isobaths, in a topographic caustic (topocaustic). The idea draws on a simple mathematical equivalence between the propagation of internal waves and of TRW's. Topocaustics occur near regions of maximum NT = N|∇h| (N = Brunt-Väisälä frequency; h = water depth). Because of the one-sided propagation property of TRW's, energy also tends to accumulate at the "western" end of closed contours of NT. The process is demonstrated here using a nonlinear primitive-equation numerical model with idealized bathymetry and forcing. A Gulf of Mexico simulation initialized with a data-assimilated analysis covering the period of the Sigsbee observation is then conducted. The mooring is near a localized maximum NT, and Intrinsic Mode Functions confirm the existence of energetic bursts of short-period deep-current events. The strong currents are locally forced from above, either by an extended Loop Current or a warm ring.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Computer Science (miscellaneous)
- Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
- Atmospheric Science