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Abstract
We revisit Ekman's (1905) classic problem of windstressinduced ocean currents to help interpret observed deviations from Ekman's theory, in particular from the predicted surface current deflection of 45∘. While previous studies have shown that such deviations can be explained by a vertical eddy viscosity varying with depth, as opposed to the constant profile taken by Ekman, analytical progress has been impeded by the difficulty in solving Ekman's equation. Herein, we present a solution for piecewiseconstant eddy viscosity which enables a comprehensive understanding of how the surface deflection angle depends on the vertical profile of eddy viscosity. For two layers, the dimensionless problem depends only on the depth of the upper layer and the ratio of layer viscosities. A single diagram then allows one to understand the dependence of the deflection angle on these two parameters.
Original language  English 

Pages (fromto)  1089–1093 
Journal  Ocean Science 
Volume  16 
DOIs  
Publication status  Published  18 Sept 2020 
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Dive into the research topics of 'The Ekman spiral for piecewiseuniform viscosity'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.Projects
 1 Finished

Geophysical Vortices: The Structure, stability and interaction of geophysical vortices
Reinaud, J. N., Dritschel, D. G. & Scott, R. K.
5/01/10 → 1/11/13
Project: Standard