Oceanography The Official Magazine of
The Oceanography Society
Volume 30 Issue 02

View Issue TOC
Volume 30, No. 2
Pages 88 - 89


Underwater Glider Observations and the Representation of Western Boundary Currents in Numerical Models

Robert E. Todd Lea Locke-Wynn
First Paragraph

Western boundary currents are important oceanic components of Earth’s climate system. In the subtropics, the Gulf Stream, Kuroshio, East Australian Current, Agulhas Current, and Brazil Current contribute to poleward heat transport. Low-latitude western boundary currents, such as the Somali Current, Mindanao Current, and New Guinea Coastal Undercurrent, are key connections between the subtropical gyres and equatorial current systems. Western boundary currents are generally narrow (O(100) km wide) with strong currents (O(1) m s–1) and large property gradients, making them a challenge to both observe and simulate.


Todd, R.E., and L. Locke-Wynn. 2017. Underwater glider observations and the representation of western boundary currents in numerical models. Oceanography 30(2):88–89, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2017.225.


Baringer, M.O., and J.C. Larsen. 2001. Sixteen years of Florida Current transport at 27°N. Geophysical Research Letters 28(16):3,179–3,182, https://doi.org/​10.1029/2001GL013246.

Davis, R.E., W.S. Kessler, and J.T. Sherman. 2012. Gliders measure western boundary current transport from the South Pacific to the equator. Journal of Physical Oceanography 42(11):2,001–2,013, https://doi.org/10.1175/JPO-D-12-022.1.

Flagg, C.N., M. Dunn, D.-P. Wang, H.T. Rossby, and R.L. Benway. 2006. A study of the currents of the outer shelf and upper slope from a decade of shipboard ADCP observations in the Middle Atlantic Bight. Journal of Geophysical Research 111, C06003, https://doi.org/10.1029/2005JC003116.

Krug, M., S. Swart, and J. Gula. 2017. Submesoscale cyclones in the Agulhas current. Geophysical Research Letters 44:346–354, https://doi.org/​10.1002/2016GL071006.

Molinari, R.L. 2011. Information from low-density expendable bathythermograph transects: North Atlantic mean temperature structure and quasi-decadal variability. Progress in Oceanography 88(1–4):131–149, https://doi.org/10.1016/​j.pocean.2010.12.013.

Rainville, L., C.M. Lee, D.L. Rudnick, and K.-C. Yang. 2013. Propagation of internal tides generated near Luzon Strait: Observations from autonomous gliders. Journal of Geophysical Research 118(9):4,125–4,138, https://doi.org/10.1002/jgrc.20293.

Rudnick, D.L. 2016. Ocean research enabled by underwater gliders. Annual Reviews of Marine Science 8:519–541, https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-marine-122414-033913.

Rudnick, D.L., R.E, Davis, and J.T. Sherman. 2016. Spray underwater glider operations. Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology 33:1,113–1,122, https://doi.org/10.1175/jtech-d-15-0252.1.

Rudnick, D.L., G. Gopalakrishnan, and B.D. Cornuelle. 2015. Cyclonic eddies in the Gulf of Mexico: Observations by underwater gliders and simulations by numerical model. Journal of Physical Oceanography 45:313–326, https://doi.org/10.1175/JPO-D-14-0138.1.

Rudnick, D.L., T.M.S. Johnston, and J.T. Sherman. 2013. High-frequency internal waves near the Luzon Strait observed by underwater gliders. Journal of Geophysical Research 118(2):774–784, https://doi.org/10.1002/jgrc.20083

Schaeffer, A., and M. Roughan. 2015. Influence of a western boundary current on shelf dynamics and upwelling from repeat glider deployments. Geophysical Research Letters 42:121–128, https://doi.org/10.1002/2014GL062260.

Schönau, M.C., and D.L. Rudnick. 2017. Mindanao Current and Undercurrent: Thermohaline structure and transport from repeat glider observations. Journal of Physical Oceanography, 47:2,055–2,075, https://doi.org/10.1175/JPO-D-16-0274.1.

Schönau, M.C., D.L. Rudnick, I. Cerovecki, G. Gopalakrishnan, B.D. Cornuelle, J.L. McClean, and B. Qiu. 2015. The Mindanao Current: Mean structure and connectivity. Oceanography 28(4):34–45, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2015.79.

Sherman, J.T., R.E. Davis, W.B. Owens, and J. Valdes. 2001. The autonomous underwater glider “Spray.” IEEE Journal of Oceanic Engineering 26(4):437–446, https://doi.org/10.1109/48.972076.

Todd, R.E. 2017. High-frequency internal waves and thick bottom mixed layers observed by gliders in the Gulf Stream. Geophysical Research Letters 44:6,316–6,325, https://doi.org/10.1002/2017GL072580.

Todd, R.E., W.B. Owens, and D.L. Rudnick. 2016. Potential vorticity structure in the North Atlantic western boundary current from underwater glider observations. Journal of Physical Oceanography 46(1):327–348, https://doi.org/​10.1175/JPO-D-15-0112.1.

Todd, R.E., D.L. Rudnick, J.T. Sherman, W.B. Owens, and L. George. 2017. Absolute velocity measurements from autonomous underwater gliders equipped with Doppler current profilers. Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology 34(2):309–333, https://doi.org/10.1175/JTECH-D-16-0156.1.

Copyright & Usage

This is an open access article made available under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution, and reproduction in any medium or format as long as users cite the materials appropriately, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate the changes that were made to the original content. Images, animations, videos, or other third-party material used in articles are included in the Creative Commons license unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If the material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission directly from the license holder to reproduce the material.