A nested grid model of the Oregon Coastal Transition Zone: Simulations and comparisons with observations during the 2001 upwelling season Public Deposited

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  • The Oregon Coastal Transition Zone (OCTZ) extends several hundred kilometers offshore where shelf flows interact with the northern California Current. A primitive-equation numerical ocean model is used to study the upwelling circulation in this region from 1 May to 1 November 2001. This OCTZ model obtains initial and boundary conditions from a larger-scale model of the California Current System and forcing from a regional atmospheric model product. The model results are compared with extensive in situ and remotely sensed data, and the model is found to provide a realistic representation of flows both over the shelf and in the broader OCTZ. Simulation of coastal sea level and shelf currents over the complex topography of the central Oregon coast is improved quantitatively relative to previous regional models. A particularly significant qualitative improvement is realistic representation of coastal jet separation and eddy formation offshore of Cape Blanco. Three-dimensional Lagrangian analysis of water parcel displacement shows that the surface waters inshore of the separated jet are upwelled from near the bottom along the shelf as far north as 45.5°N. A large eddy, which incorporates some of this upwelled water and carries it farther westward, forms offshore in the late summer. Ensemble simulations show a distinction between the strongly deterministic response to wind forcing over the shelf and the more unstable, less predictable jet separation and offshore eddy formation processes in the region near Cape Blanco.
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  • Springer, S. R., R. M. Samelson, J. S. Allen, G. D. Egbert, A. L. Kurapov, R. N. Miller, and J. C. Kindle (2009), A nested grid model of the Oregon Coastal Transition Zone: Simulations and comparisons with observations during the 2001 upwelling season, J. Geophys. Res., 114, C02010.
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