Ocean Gyres Driven by Surface Buoyancy Forcing

Andrew Mc C. Hogg*, Bishakhdatta Gayen

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    18 Citations (Scopus)


    Midlatitude gyres in the ocean are large-scale horizontal circulations that are intensified on the western boundary of the ocean, giving rise to currents such as the Gulf Stream. The physical mechanism underlying gyres is widely recognized to involve the curl of the wind stress, which injects potential vorticity into the upper ocean. However, model results have highlighted the role of surface buoyancy fluxes (principally heating and cooling of the ocean surface) in driving circulation and enhancing gyre variability. Here we present two numerical simulations—one in the fully turbulent regime and the second an eddy-permitting ocean model—which show that gyre-like circulation can be driven by surface buoyancy fluxes alone. We explore this phenomenon through a combination of modeling and linear theory to highlight that the transport of ocean gyres depends upon surface buoyancy fluxes as well as wind stress.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere2020GL088539
    JournalGeophysical Research Letters
    Issue number16
    Publication statusPublished - 28 Aug 2020


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