Mesoscale surveys over the shelf and slope in the upwelling region near Point Arena, California Public Deposited

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  • Repeated mesoscale surveys of a 40-km-wide, 100-km-long, coastal region near Point Arena, California, were conducted during the upwelling season (April-August) in 1981 and 1982. Each survey included conventional conductivity-temperature-depth casts at standard locations over the continental shelf and slope between 38°N and 39°10'N, and continuous operation of a Doppler acoustic log to obtain velocity profiles in the 20- to 150-m depth range. "Synoptic" surveys covered the entire grid in 2-3 days. Winds were strongly favorable for upwelling during the three 1981 surveys and were weak or variable during the three 1982 surveys. Surface temperature and salinity fields reflect the influence of both the seasonal winds and day-to-day variations in the wind. Persistently low surface salinities offshore reflect the general southward advection of subarctic waters, and sporadic low salinities over the inner shelf reflect northward advection of local runoff through an intermittent narrow countercurrent along the coast. Circulation patterns during all but one of the surveys were very complex and included meandering equatorward flow, cyclonic and anticyclonic eddies, and inshore countercurrents. The simple two-dimensional, equatorward, baroclinic coastal jet usually associated with coastal upwelling was observed during only one of our surveys. Overall average fields are relatively simple. They show broad equatorward surface flow, a very weak inshore countercurrent, and a definite poleward undercurrent at the shelf break. Average temperature, salinity, and density fields are generally congruent with the average flow pattern. Average isotherms and isohalines are not strictly parallel to the coastline: south of the coastline bend at Point Arena, they diverge gradually from the coast. Comparison of average sections calculated from 10 matched pairs of Central and Arena lines (separated by 50 km) shows there are systematic differences between them. Warmer, fresher waters lie nearer shore (and in shallower water) off Point Arena than on the Central line; this suggests that the surface waters flowing past Point Arena have sufficient southward momentum to cross isobaths. Comparison of average velocity sections on these two lines shows some differences in structure; since the variability is large, these may not be significant. Comparison of the measured and geostrophic average shears suggests there is a significant ageostrophic component in the upper layers above 40 m; it may be the signature of an average wind-driven Ekman spira
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  • Huyer, A., & Kosro, P. M. (1987). Mesoscale surveys over the shelf and slope in the upwelling region near Point Arena, California. Journal of Geophysical Research, 92(C2), 1655-1681.
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