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Hancke, L., Roberts, M. J., & Ternon, J. - F. (2014). Surface drifter trajectories highlight flow pathways in the Mozambique Channel. Deep-Sea Research Part II.Topical Studies in Oceanography, 100(No spécial), 27–37.
Résumé: The pattern of surface circulation in the Mozambique Channel was elucidated from the trajectories of 82 satellite-tracked drifters over the period 2000-2010 and complementary satellite-derived altimetry. Overall, the trajectories indicated that anticyclonic activity was mostly observed on the western side of the Channel, with cyclonic activity being more prevalent in the east. A lack of eddy activity was noted in the southeast corner of the Channel (i.e. SW of Madagascar). Drifter behaviour illustrated that surface water from the Comoros Basin, entrained into anticyclonic eddies during formation, can be retained and isolated for months whilst being transported southwards through the Channel. During a tropical cyclone weather event, a drifter was observed to switch between counter-rotating eddies indicating that horizontal mixing of the Ekman layer does occur. The drifters also illustrated and emphasised the flow field and transport between eddies (i.e. the interstitial flow) in the Mozambique Channel. Despite the dominance of southward propagating anticyclones, drifters were able to move north and south through the Channel in the frontal flow field between eddies within periods of 51-207 days. Cross-channel transport in both directions between the Madagascan and Mozambique shelf regions was similarly observed, with time spans of 19-30 days. Surprisingly, drifters from the southern limb of the East Madagascar Current were transported westward across the channel to the Mozambique shelf. This transport was similarly facilitated by the frontal flow field between eddies. It is hypothesised that the frontal zones between eddies and interstitial waters play an important role in distributing biota in the Mozambique Channel.