Properties of Red Sea coastal currents

J.H. Churchill, S.J. Lentz, J.T. Farrar, Yasser Abualnaja

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Properties of coastal flows of the central Red Sea are examined using 2 years of velocity data acquired off the coast of Saudi Arabia near 22 °N. The tidal flow is found to be very weak. The strongest tidal constituent, the M2 tide, has a magnitude of order 4 cm s−1. Energetic near-inertial and diurnal period motions are observed. These are surface-intensified currents, reaching magnitudes of >10 cm s−1. Although the diurnal currents appear to be principally wind-driven, their relationship with the surface wind stress record is complex. Less than 50% of the diurnal current variance is related to the diurnal wind stress through linear correlation. Correlation analysis reveals a classical upwelling/downwelling response to the alongshore wind stress. However, less than 30% of the overall sub-inertial variance can be accounted for by this response. The action of basin-scale eddies, impinging on the coastal zone, is implicated as a primary mechanism for driving coastal flows.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-61
Number of pages11
JournalContinental Shelf Research
StatePublished - Feb 14 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Geology


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