Pathways and mechanisms of offshore water intrusions on the Espírito Santo Basin shelf (18°S–22°S, Brazil)

Palóczy, A, Brink KH, da Silveira ICA, Arruda WZ, Martins RP.  2016.  Pathways and mechanisms of offshore water intrusions on the Espírito Santo Basin shelf (18°S–22°S, Brazil). Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans. 121:5134–5163.


arrested topographic wave, brazil current, Coastal dynamics, Coastal processes, continental shelf and slope processes, cross-shelf transport, deep-ocean forcing, Hydrodynamic modeling, south Atlantic Central Water, Upwelling and convergences, Western boundary currents


The pathways and physical mechanisms associated with intrusions of cold, nutrient‐rich South Atlantic Central Water (SACW) on the continental shelf of the Espírito Santo Basin (ESB), off southeast Brazil (18°S–22°S), are investigated. To this end, a set of process‐oriented, Primitive‐Equation (PE) numerical models are used, together with an independent and more complete PE model, available observations and simple theoretical ideas. SACW enters the model ESB shelf mostly through two preferential pathways along the Tubarão Bight (TB, 19.5°S–22°S). These pathways are found to be locations where an equatorward along‐isobath pressure gradient force (PGFy*) of O(10-6 m s-2) develops in response to steady wind forcing. This equatorward PGFy* is essentially in geostrophic balance, inducing onshore flow across the shelf edge, and most of the shelf proper. The Brazil Current (BC) imparts an additional periodic (in the along‐shelf direction) PGFy* on the shelf. The intrinsic pycnocline uplifting effect of the BC in making colder water available at the shelf edge is quantified. The BC also induces local intrusions by inertially overshooting the shelf edge, consistent with estimated Rossby numbers of ~0.3–0.5. In addition, the planetary β‐effect is related to a background equatorward PGFy*. A modified Arrested Topographic Wave model is shown to be a plausible rationalization for the shelf‐wide spreading of the pressure field imparted by the BC at the shelf edge. The deep‐ocean processes examined here are found to enhance the onshore transport of SACW, while wind forcing is found to dominate it at leading order.