Momentum balances on the inner continental shelf at Martha's Vineyard Coastal Observatory
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The subtidal, depth-average momentum balances in 12 m and 27 m water depth are investigated using observations from 2001 to 2007 of water velocity, temperature, and density; bottom pressure; surface gravity waves; and wind stress. In the fluctuating across-shelf momentum budget, the dominant terms are surface wind stress, pressure gradient, and Coriolis acceleration. The balance is a combination of (1) the geostrophic balance expected at midshelf sites and (2) the coastal setup and setdown balance driven by the across-shelf wind stress expected where surface and bottom boundary layers overlap. At the 12 m site, the estimated wave radiation stress gradient due to surface gravity wave shoaling is also large but is uncorrelated with the observed pressure gradient. A simple model suggests the wave radiation stress gradient is balanced by an across-shelf pressure gradient with a spatial scale too small to resolve with this mooring array. In the fluctuating along-shelf momentum balance, the dominant terms are surface wind stress, pressure gradient, and bottom stress at the shallower site, but the other estimated terms are not negligible. Our results support the Grant and Madsen (1986) formulation for wave-induced bottom stress. The fluctuating along-shelf pressure gradient is mainly a local sea level response to wind forcing, not a remotely generated pressure gradient. A strong correlation between along-shelf velocity and along-shelf wind stress at the shallower site is captured by a simple steady model of imbalance between wind stress and pressure gradient balanced by linear bottom drag.
Author Posting. © American Geophysical Union, 2010. This article is posted here by permission of American Geophysical Union for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Journal of Geophysical Research 115 (2010): C12023, doi:10.1029/2009JC005578.
Suggested CitationJournal of Geophysical Research 115 (2010): C12023
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