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An Observational Study of Sea Breezes Along the Alaskan Beaufort Sea Coast: Part I

Thomas L. KozoTetra Tech, Inc., Pasadena, CA 91107

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Abstract

Though sea breezes are not often associated with the arctic, atmospheric environmental data collected in August 1976, 1977 and 1979 along the Beaufort Sea Coast of Alaska offer both circumstantial and direct evidence of the existence of sea breezes at 70°N latitude. To estimate total atmospheric boundary layer turning, a two-dimensional least squares technique is used to calculate a three hourly geostrophic wind (above the atmospheric boundary layer) with data from irregularly distributed surface pressure stations for simultaneous comparison to surface wind data. Results indicated the average turning of the wind from above the boundary layer to the surface was 120° on sea breeze days. Rotary spectra from time series data of surface winds measured at offshore and inshore sites have shown the horizontal extent of sea breeze influence to include at least a 20 km zone centered on the coastline. The sea breeze is largely responsible for the increased persistence of surface onshore (northeasterly and easterly) winds documented in August historical data for the Alaskan Beaufort Sea Coast.

The data base for arctic sea breeze studies has been enhanced by the discovery and development of the Prudhoe Bay oil fields (mid-sixties). Since the nearshore ocean current flow along the Alaskan Beaufort Sea Coast is primarily wind driven, a direct application to oil spill trajectories in lagoons and embayments exists.

Abstract

Though sea breezes are not often associated with the arctic, atmospheric environmental data collected in August 1976, 1977 and 1979 along the Beaufort Sea Coast of Alaska offer both circumstantial and direct evidence of the existence of sea breezes at 70°N latitude. To estimate total atmospheric boundary layer turning, a two-dimensional least squares technique is used to calculate a three hourly geostrophic wind (above the atmospheric boundary layer) with data from irregularly distributed surface pressure stations for simultaneous comparison to surface wind data. Results indicated the average turning of the wind from above the boundary layer to the surface was 120° on sea breeze days. Rotary spectra from time series data of surface winds measured at offshore and inshore sites have shown the horizontal extent of sea breeze influence to include at least a 20 km zone centered on the coastline. The sea breeze is largely responsible for the increased persistence of surface onshore (northeasterly and easterly) winds documented in August historical data for the Alaskan Beaufort Sea Coast.

The data base for arctic sea breeze studies has been enhanced by the discovery and development of the Prudhoe Bay oil fields (mid-sixties). Since the nearshore ocean current flow along the Alaskan Beaufort Sea Coast is primarily wind driven, a direct application to oil spill trajectories in lagoons and embayments exists.

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