Tidal currents in the Indonesian Seas and their effect on transport and mixing


  • Takaki Hatayama,

  • Toshiyuki Awaji,

  • Kazunori Akitomo


We have investigated the characteristics of tides and tidal currents in the Indonesian Seas, with particular emphasis on the predominant constituents, the barotropic M2 and K1 components. The calculated harmonic constants of the M2 and K1 tides agree well with those obtained from extensive tide gauge observations: the mean root-mean-square errors between models and observations for M2 and K1 over the entire Indonesian Seas are 11.2 and 8.65 cm, respectively, smaller than previous studies. The features of the tidal current field are qualitatively similar to those reported by Wyrtki [1961]. Relatively strong tidal currents are found in the Java Sea and in the vicinities of the narrow straits, such as the Lombok and Malacca Straits. Tracking of numerous labeled particles in the calculated velocity field clearly shows that the tidal currents play essential roles in the transport and mixing processes in the Indonesian Seas. For example, in the eastern Indonesian Seas a significant clockwise residual circulation appears around Buru Island, due primarily to the tidal rectification over variable bottom topography, with a minor impact from the nonlinear effects around narrow straits. The tide-induced residual transport from the Seram Sea to the eastern Banda Sea attains about 3.8 Sv (1 Sv = 106 m3 s−1), comparable to that of the Indo-Pacific throughflow along the eastern route. In the western Indonesian Seas (the Java Sea and the Makassar Strait) the residual transport is much smaller than the throughflow transport along the western route. Our result suggests, however, that the properties of water flowing through this route could be modified by strong tidal mixing around the shelf of the southern Makassar Strait and the Lombok Strait.