Document Type

Article

Date of Original Version

1986

Abstract

From 1979 to 1982, Gulf Stream path fluctuations within 375 km downstream of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, have been monitored by inverted echo sounders. Histograms of the north wall locations along four cross‐stream sections change shape and increase in range dramatically downstream through the study area: Near Cape Hatteras, the histogram is peaked with the Gulf Stream found over half of the time within a narrow 10‐km range. The distributions become progressively more symmetric and the ranges widen downstream such that in the eastern portion of the study area the Gulf Stream can be found with equal probability throughout its 145‐km excursion range. From the 36‐month‐long time series near 73°W there is evidence of a seasonal cycle of Gulf Stream positions; northerly locations occur in the summer/fall, when transports are lower, and southerly locations occur in the winter/spring, when transports are higher. An observational dispersion relationship is presented for meander propagation and growth: Downstream propagation rates increase smoothly from about 14 km d−1 for meanders with periods and wavelengths (33 days, 460 km) to over 45 km d−1 for the (4 days, 180 km) meanders. Meander amplitudes show rapid growth rates in two separate bands, near (4–5 days, 180–230 km) and (10–33 days, 300–500 km).

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