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Question About Mozambique Current

By doina — last modified Jul 10, 2008 05:40 PM

Published: 2008-07-10 17:40:19
Topics: Indian Ocean

In your World Cruising Routes, p524, IS46 Comoros to South Africa, you talk about the north-setting Mozambique Current creating very difficult sailing conditions and rough seas with the prevailing NE winds. Please explain as I was sure this current sets south and should give a fast passage south with wind and current working together.

I am very sorry about the confusion. The text on page 524 of my book is partly wrong, and I will explain how that may have happened: occasionally the Mozambique Current is known to have reversed direction, especially closer its northern limit, just south of the Comoros. In fact, this is what I found on the Internet:

"The Mozambique Current has been perceived as a western boundary current to the wind-driven system in the southwest Indian Ocean. It is supposed to be a key link in the, climatically important, global circulation by carrying tropical surface water poleward through the Mozambique Channel and eventually into the South Atlantic. Traditionally it has also been conceived as a main tributary to the Agulhas Current. Until rather recently, also most ocean models simulated the Mozambique Current as a weak current with little variability. By contrast, modern satellite observations, as well as eddy permitting models indicate extraordinary high variability along its purported trajectory. To address these conundrums we have recently carried out the first research cruise designed specifically to investigate the nature and continuity of the Mozambique Current along its full length. It has revealed that no intense, coherent ... current exists in the Mozambique Channel. Instead, the flow is dominated by a train of large (diameters over 300 km) anti-cyclonic eddies that reach to the channel bottom. In the deep sea our observations have also identified a rather strong Mozambique Undercurrent which flows equatorward along the continental slope and carries intermediate and deep waters of Atlantic origin into the Channel...."

On page 457 of my book, you will notice that the Mozambique Current is shown as being south-setting, which is indeed the case most of the time.

I am very grateful to you for pointing this out to me, and I will re-write the text so as to avoid any possible confusion.

Jimmy Cornell