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Ekman Portion of Surface Currents, as Measured by Radar in Different Areas

Deutsche Hydrographische Zeitschrift 45, pp. 57...85, 1993.
Abstract - - Surface currents, as measured by HF-radar CODAR (COstal raDAR), are investigated with respect to their dependence on wind. Time series of wind are available from single weather statons, while CODAR yields current velocities on a grid with a resolution of some 3 km. As part of various research programs experiments have been carried out by the University of Hamburg (Germany) in different areas. Two of the areas under consideration are located in the Baltic Sea, two in the North Sea, and one covering the northern part of the Dead Sea. Time series of about two weeks with 2-hourly sampling are available for some 50 grid points of each area.

Vector- correlation techniques are used to determine the linear relation of surface currents on wind velocity and also windstress. In both cases, significant correlation of about the same order has been found. 35% to 60% of the variance in surface currents may be explained by linear forcing from vectors of wind velocity or windstress. Curent-to-wind ratios range from 0.015 to 0.025, and a veering to the right of currents against wind has been observed. The decompostion of horizontal two-dimensional current fields into empirical othogonal eigenfunctions (EOF) yields higher amounts of variance in the 1. EOF as may be explained by linear windforcing.

Two possible mechanisms for wind-driven currents are discussed, Ekman circulation and Stokes drift. Assuming the vertical eddy viscosity to be independent on wind velocity and water depth, it may be estimated. Values of about 5*10-4m2s-1 are found in the Baltic and 20*10-4m2s-1 in the North Sea, which are in reasonable agreement with those used in numerical models.
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