Wave-Driven Inner-Shelf Motions on the Oregon Coast*

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  • Recent work by S. Lentz et al. documents offshore transport in the inner shelf due to a wave-driven return flow associated with the Hasselmann wave stress (the Stokes–Coriolis force). This analysis is extended using observations from the central Oregon coast to identify the wave-driven return flow present and quantify the potential bias of wind-driven across-shelf exchange by unresolved wave-driven circulation. Using acoustic Doppler current profiler (ADCP) measurements at six stations, each in water depths of 13–15 m, observed depth-averaged, across-shelf velocities were generally correlated with theoretical estimates of the proposed return flow. During times of minimal wind forcing, across-shelf velocity profiles were vertically sheared, with stronger velocities near the top of the measured portion of the water column, and increased in magnitude with increasing significant wave height, consistent with circulation due to the Hasselmann wave stress. Yet velocity magnitudes and vertical shears were stronger than that predicted by linear wave theory, and more similar to the stratified ‘‘summer’’ velocity profiles described by S. Lentz et al. Additionally, substantial temporal and spatial variability of the wave-driven return flow was found, potentially due to changing wind and wave conditions as well as local bathymetric variability. Despite the wave-driven circulation found, subtracting estimates of the return flow from the observed across-shelf velocity had no significant effect on estimates of the across-shelf exchange due to along-shelf wind forcing at these water depths along the Oregon coast during summer.
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  • Kirincich, Anthony R., Steven J. Lentz, John A. Barth, 2009: Wave-Driven Inner-Shelf Motions on the Oregon Coast*. J. Phys. Oceanogr., 39, 2942–2956.
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  • 39
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  • 11
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  • This work was performed with the Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans (PISCO), funded primarily by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and David and Lucile Packard Foundation. Additional instrumentation was provided by Nortek-AS through a 2005 Nortek Student Equipment Grant award to AK. SL acknowledges support from NSF Ocean Science Grant #OCE-0548961. AK acknowledges support from the WHOI Coastal Ocean Institute Fellowship.
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