Drivers of spring and summer variability in the coastal ocean offshore of Cape Cod, MA
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KeywordCoastal circulation; Reynolds stresses; Pressure gradients; Along shelf transport; Inter-annual variability
The drivers of spring and summer variability within the coastal ocean east of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, a critical link between the Gulf of Maine and Mid-Atlantic Bight, are investigated using 2 years of shipboard and moored hydrographic and velocity observations from 2010 and 2011. The observations reveal sharp differences in the spring transition and along-shelf circulation due to variable freshwater and meteorological forcing, along with along-shelf pressure gradients. The role of the along-shelf pressure gradient is inferred using in situ observations of turbulent momentum flux, or Reynolds stresses, estimated from the ADCP-based velocities using recently developed methods and an inversion of the along-shelf momentum balance. During spring, the locally relevant along-shelf pressure gradient contains a sizable component that is not coupled to the along-shelf winds and often opposes the regional sea level gradient. Together with the winds, local pressure gradients dominate along-shelf transport variability during spring, while density-driven geostrophic flows appear to match the contribution of the local winds during summer. These results suggest that local effects along the Outer Cape have the potential to cause significant changes in exchange between the basins.
Author Posting. © American Geophysical Union, 2016. This article is posted here by permission of [publisher] for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans 121 (2016): 1789–1805, doi:10.1002/2015JC011252.
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