Tidal and atmospheric forcing of the upper ocean in the Gulf of California, Part 1: Sea surface temperature variability Public Deposited

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  • Two years of satellite infrared imagery (1984–1986) are used to examine the sea surface temperature (SST) variability in the northern Gulf of California. Empirical orthogonal functions (EOFs) of the temporal and spatial SST variance for 20 monthly mean images show that the dominant SST patterns are generated by spatially varying tidal mixing in the presence of seasonal heating and cooling. These patterns are modified in the fall and winter when shelf temperatures south of Tiburon Island cool in response to upwelling-favorable winds. These same winds bring cold, dry air from off the continental United States, causing local cooling of the shallow northern shelf. During the rest of the year, the broad, shallow shelves are warmer than offshore. The seasonally reversing temperature patterns are consistent with recent hydrographic observations which show a cyclonic surface circulation in the summer and a weaker anticyclonic circulation during the rest of the year. Atmospheric forcing of the northern gulf appears to occur over large spatial scales. Area-averaged SSTs for the Guaymas Basi, island region, and northern basin show significant fluctuations which are highly correlated. These fluctuations in SST correspond to similar fluctuations in the air temperature which are related to synoptic weather events overf the gulf. During periods of particularly low wind speed, the air temperataure over the gulf incrases dramatically. By afternoon, intense heating of the sea surface results in the appearance of warm SST anomalies in the satellite data. These SSTs are approximately 2ºC warmer than surrounding SSTs and most likely occur as a result of a spatially varying wind field. A regression analysis of the SST relative to the fortnightly tidal range shows that tidal mixing occurs over the sills in the island region as well as on the shallow northern shelf. Mixing over the sills, however, occurs as a result of large breaking internal waves or internal hydraulic jumps which mix water over the upper 300–500 m. This mixing pumps heat away from the surface, deep into the water column, thereby maintaining the cool SSTs. Since mixing occurs over greater depths in the island region, the temperatures there are much colder than those generated by tidal mixing on the shallow shelves, resulting in the persistent pool of cool water evident in the satellite data. This cooler water is mixed horizontally by the basin-scale circulation, lowering the SSTs over much of the northern gulf. These reduced SSTs have a large impact on the surface heat flux by lowering the saturation vapor pressure of the air. As a result, the amount of heat lost to the atmosphere through the latent or evaporative heat flux is reduced. This may explain why the Gulf of California gains heat on an annual average rather than losing heat as occurs in the Mediterranean and Red seas where tidal mixing is not significant.
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  • Paden, C.A., Mark R. Abbott, and C.D. Winant, 1991, Tidal and atmospheric forcing of the upper ocean in the Gulf of California, Part 1: Sea surface temperature variability, J. Geophys. Res., 96, 18,333–18,359.
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  • description.provenance : Made available in DSpace on 2010-04-14T00:49:13Z (GMT). No. of bitstreams: 1 Paden Abbott Winant 1991 JGR.pdf: 6243925 bytes, checksum: 80091a859eac967887055d49fd6bbfb1 (MD5) Previous issue date: 1991
  • description.provenance : Approved for entry into archive by Mark Abbott(mark@coas.oregonstate.edu) on 2010-04-14T00:49:13Z (GMT) No. of bitstreams: 1 Paden Abbott Winant 1991 JGR.pdf: 6243925 bytes, checksum: 80091a859eac967887055d49fd6bbfb1 (MD5)
  • description.provenance : Submitted by Linda Lamb (llamb@coas.oregonstate.edu) on 2010-04-14T00:33:32Z No. of bitstreams: 1 Paden Abbott Winant 1991 JGR.pdf: 6243925 bytes, checksum: 80091a859eac967887055d49fd6bbfb1 (MD5)
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  • 0148-0227

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