Numerical simulations of spreading of the Persian Gulf outflow into the Oman Sea
Abstract. A three dimensional numerical model namely POM (Princeton Ocean Model) and observational data are used to study the Persian Gulf outflow structure and its spreading pathways during 1992. In the model, the monthly wind speed data were taken from ICOADS (International Comprehensive Ocean-Atmosphere Data Set) and the monthly SST (sea surface temperatures) were taken from AVHRR (Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer) with the addition of monthly net shortwave radiations from NCEP (National Center for Environmental Prediction). The mean monthly precipitation rates from NCEP data and the calculated evaporation rates are used to impose the surface salinity fluxes. At the open boundaries the temperature and salinity were prescribed from the mean monthly climatological values from WOA05 (World Ocean Atlas 2005). Also the four major components of the tide were prescribed at the open boundaries. The results show that the outflow mainly originates from two branches at different depths in the Persian Gulf. The permanent branch exists during the whole year deeper than 40 m along the Gulf axis and originates from the inner parts of the Persian Gulf. The other seasonal branch forms in the vicinity of the shallow southern coasts due to high evaporation rates during winter. Near the Strait of Hormuz the two branches join and form the main outflow source water. The results of simulations reveal that during the winter the outflow boundary current mainly detaches from the coast well before Ras Al Hamra Cape, however during summer the outflow seems to follow the coast even after this Cape. This is due to a higher density of the colder outflow that leads to more sinking near the coast in winter. Thus, the outflow moves to a deeper depth of about 500 m (for which some explanations are given) while the main part detaches and spreads at a depth of about 300 m. However in summer it all moves at a depth of about 200–250 m. During winter, the deeper, stronger and wider outflow is more affected by the steep topography, leading to separation from the coast. While during summer, the weaker and shallower outflow is less influenced by bottom topography and so continues along the boundary.