Lecture Sixteen

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Lecture 16: The Agulhas Current as a case study of a Western Boundary Current

Link to Lecture 16 slide show: 16_Agulhas_CaseStudy.pdf

The Agulhas Current is the western boundary current of the South Indian Ocean’s subtropical gyre. It carries tropical and subtropical waters poleward, along the east coast of South Africa, between about 27 S and 37 S. South of the continent, at about 40 S, it retroflects to the east and becomes the Agulhas Return Current.

Other Resources for information on the Agulhas Current
The Agulhas Current, Johann Lutjeharms, Springer, 2006.

Study questions:
  1. What was the difficulty with measuring longitude at sea?
  2. What is the geostrophic reference layer problem?
  3. How would you expect geostropic velocities and direct velocities to differ and why? 
  4. What does synoptic mean? Which kind of oceanographic data are synoptic? What problems can arise if measurements are not synoptic?
  5. Does Agulhas Current transport match Sverdrup theory? Discuss why or why not?
Updated on Nov 2007