Observations of cross-shelf flow driven by cross-shelf winds on the inner continental shelf

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Fewings, Melanie R.
Lentz, Steven J.
Fredericks, Janet J.
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Continental shelf
Six-yr-long time series of winds, waves, and water velocity from a cabled coastal observatory in 12 m of water reveal the separate dependence of the cross-shelf velocity profile on cross-shelf and along-shelf winds, waves, and tides. During small waves, cross-shelf wind is the dominant mechanism driving the cross-shelf circulation after tides and tidal residual motions are removed. The along-shelf wind does not drive a substantial cross-shelf circulation. During offshore winds, the cross-shelf circulation is offshore in the upper water column and onshore in the lower water column, with roughly equal and opposite volume transports in the surface and bottom layers. During onshore winds, the circulation is nearly the reverse. The observed profiles and cross-shelf transport in the surface layer during winter agree with a simple two-dimensional unstratified model of cross-shelf wind stress forcing. The cross-shelf velocity profile is more vertically sheared and the surface layer transport is stronger in summer than in winter for a given offshore wind stress. During large waves, the cross-shelf circulation is no longer roughly symmetric in the wind direction. For onshore winds, the cross-shelf velocity profile is nearly vertically uniform, because the wind- and wave-driven shears cancel; for offshore winds, the profile is strongly vertically sheared because the wind- and wave-driven shears have the same sign. The Lagrangian velocity profile in winter is similar to the part of the Eulerian velocity profile due to cross-shelf wind stress alone, because the contribution of Stokes drift to the Lagrangian velocity approximately cancels the contribution of waves to the Eulerian velocity.
Author Posting. © American Meteorological Society, 2008. This article is posted here by permission of American Meteorological Society for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Journal of Physical Oceanography 38 (2008): 2358-2378, doi:10.1175/2008JPO3990.1.
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Journal of Physical Oceanography 38 (2008): 2358-2378
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