Tidal band current variability over the Northern California continental shelf
Rosenfeld, Leslie K.
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LocationNorthern California continental shelf
The focus of this dissertation is on the description and dynamical interpretation of the tidal band current fluctuations over the continental shelf off northern California. The term "tidal band" is used here to denote fluctuations with periods from about one-half to one day, including all the major diurnal and semidiurnal tidal constituents. The semidiurnal frequency is super-inertial, and the diurnal frequency sub-inertial, at this mid-latitude location. Kinetic and potential energy are strongly peaked at the diurnal and semidiurnal frequencies. Although inertial currents are occasionally observed, particularly during the winter when internal wave energy in general is elevated in this locale, they do not contribute significantly to the current variance. Consequently, the treatment here is divided into discussion of the diurnal and semidiurnal variability. Each chapter emphasizes a process which can cause the tidal currents to deviate from what would be anticipated based solely on observations of sea level. In Chapter II, the diurnal current variability is discussed, and the role played by atmospheric forcing is examined in detail. In Chapter III, the barotropic semidiurnal tidal currents over the shelf are described, and the effect of small-scale bumps in the coastline is evaluated. The baroclinic semi diurnal tidal currents, which are dependent upon the local time-varying hydrographic conditions, are examined in Chapter IV.
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution December 1986
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