Indonesian through flow and the associated pressure gradient


  • Klaus Wyrtki


The flow of water from the western Pacific to the eastern Indian Ocean through the Indonesian archipelago is governed by a strong pressure gradient. Dynamic height computations determine the average sea level difference as 16 cm and show that most of the pressure gradient is contained in the upper 200 m. Sea level data from Davao in the Philippines and from Darwin in Australia are used to determine the annual signal and the interannual variations of the pressure gradient for the years 1966 to 1985. The annual signal has a maximum during the southeast monsoon in July and August and a minimum in January and February. Interannual variations are not related to the Southern Oscillation because sea level is low at both stations during El Niño events, and thus there is little influence on the sea level difference. The mechanism of the through flow is discussed, but a determination of its numerical value will have to await direct measurements. A comparison of the sea level difference with results from a numerical model by Kindle shows satisfactory agreement. It is concluded that the variability of the through flow can be monitored by sea level measurements.