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Mohammad Hadi Bahmanpour

Start date

Mar 2014

Submission date

Mar 2018

Mohammad Hadi Bahmanpour


Annual and inter-annual variability of a boundary flow along the North West shelf of Australia


The North West shelf region of Australia has been the subject to a number of oceanographic studies in the past (e.g., Brink et al., 2007; Condie & Andrewartha, 2008; Godfrey & Mansbridge, 2000). However, there are still many unanswered questions regarding mean flow pattern and volume transport and its annual and inter-annual variability. Besides, various theories have been proposed to describe the mechanisms that can account for the observed seasonality of circulation in that region, and yet no single theory exists that can thoroughly define the flow pattern in that region because of the complexities involved and lack of observational data. Past data sets are not enough to adequately characterise the variability of the along shelf flow on the NWS. However, with the availability of almost 3 years of high temporal resolution ADCP /CTD measurement along a number of sections on the Australian North West shelf, a new opportunity exists to increase the knowledge of volume transport characteristics and other oceanographic features of that region.

The measurement program in NWS started in June 2010 with the roll out of 4 moorings from Joseph Bonaparte Gulf to the Timor Slope (ITF transect). In early 2012 two more arrays were added off the Kimberley and Pilbara continental shelf regions. The mooring arrays are a sub-facility of IMOS Australian national mooring network and provide observations comprising physical (temperature, salinity, sea level and currents) and water quality (turbidity and chlorophyll) measurements. Kimberley and Pilbara transects are funded through Western Australian government co-investment with the IMOS. Almost all of the moorings fall onshore of 200-m isobath as an indicator of the continental shelf edge. Therefore, these moorings could be able to capture the circulation and its seasonal variation. The current measurement program ends in early 2015, providing 3 years of uninterrupted observational data for oceanographic research and application (of which 2 years is already available).

Previous observations in NWS have addressed some of the questions regarding bottom boundary layer dynamics in an internal wave dominated region (Bluteau et al., 2010), cross shelf cascade of dense water during winter as a result of evaporative cooling (Shearman & Brink, 2010) and internal tide propagation over steep topography (Holloway, 1994; Holloway et al., 2001; Rayson et al., 2011). It is clear that traditionally less attention has been paid to the study of longer term mean circulation, seasonal variability of the mean flow and its associated volume transport. Besides, the question of the origin of North West shelf flow, its seasonality and year to year variability and the effects of this flow to the Leeuwin Current off Western Australia requires further analysis. These topics are the main thrust of this research, and it is planned to use a wide range of field data for achieving the aforementioned goals.

Why my research is important

The proposed study will make significant contribution to the knowledge of circulation in the North West shelf (NWS) of Australia. This region contains valuable marine communities and biological resources, as well as various offshore oil and gas resources of prime economic importance for Western Australia. The study of coastal ocean is of vital importance for predicting ecosystem dynamics, sediment transport and fate of chemical, geological and ecological resources, and it is an area of active research (Haidvogel & Chant, 2012).


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Thursday, 19 September, 2013 11:39 AM