Geostrophic and Sverdrup transports as indices of flow in the Gulf of Alaska Public Deposited

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  • The intensification of cyclonic winds in the Gulf of Alaska during winter belies the relatively constant geostrophic circulation as being indicative of actual flow. In the absence of direct current measurements, effects of various meteorological phenomena have been eliminated from monthly mean sea level measurements over the decade 1950 to 1959, and the resulting height anomalies equated to monthly mean Sverdrup transports. A linear relationship is obtained, except during summer when it permits an estimate of the increase in recorded sea level due to runoff. The data suggest that during summer the geostrophic transport is a good indication of general flow, but that during winter the distribution of mass does not adjust to the Sverdrup transport, and the resulting barotrophic flow is about one and one-half times the geostrophic flow during this period. Mean seasonal Sverdrup transport indicates maximum recirculation in the Gulf of Alaska gyre during winter, a reduced but equal recirculation during summer and fall, but none during spring. These results conflict with existing interpretations of flow in the Gulf of Alaska, and should form the basis for renewed oceanographic explorations in this region.
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