Eddy cancellation of the ekman cell in subtropical gyres

Edward W. Doddridge*, David P. Marshall, Andrew McC. Hogg

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    14 Citations (Scopus)


    The presence of large-scale Ekman pumping associated with the climatological wind stress curl is the textbook explanation for low biological activity in the subtropical gyres. Using an idealized, eddy-resolving model, it is shown that Eulerian-mean Ekman pumping may be opposed by an eddy-driven circulation, analogous to the way in which the atmospheric Ferrel cell and the Southern Ocean Deacon cell are opposed by eddy-driven circulations. Lagrangian particle tracking, potential vorticity fluxes, and depth-density streamfunctions are used to show that, in the model, the rectified effect of eddies acts to largely cancel the Eulerian-mean Ekman downwelling. To distinguish this effect from eddy compensation, it is proposed that the suppression of Eulerian-mean downwelling by eddies be called "eddy cancellation.".

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2995-3010
    Number of pages16
    JournalJournal of Physical Oceanography
    Issue number10
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


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