Statistical aspects of surface drifter observations of circulation in the Santa Barbara Channel Public Deposited

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  • Argos-tracked drifters are used to study the near-surface circulation in the Santa Barbara Channel. The mean consists of a cyclonic cell in the western Santa Barbara Channel with weaker flow in the eastern Channel. Drifter mean velocities agree well with record means from near-surface current meters. At the eastern entrance to the channel, drifter velocities are biased toward outflow (eastward velocity) conditions. Drifter variability at synoptic and seasonal scales shows a tendency for upwelling and eastward flow in spring, a strong cyclonic circulation in summer, poleward relaxation in fall, and weak, variable circulation in winter. Drifter estimates of eddy stress divergence indicate advective terms play a secondary role in the mean surface momentum balance. Lagrangian time and space scales are about 1 day and under 10 km, respectively. The mismatch between Lagrangian and Eulerian timescales indicates advective terms are important to the fluctuating circulation.
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  • Dever, E. P., Hendershott, M. C., and Winant, C. D., (1998). Statistical aspects of surface drifter observations of circulation in the Santa Barbara Channel. J. Geophys. Res., 103, C11, 24781-24797.
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