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Coastal Wind-Driven Circulation in the Vicinity of a Bank. Part II: Modeling Flow over the Heceta Bank Complex on the Oregon Coast

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  • 1 Department of Marine Sciences, University of Connecticut, Groton, Connecticut
  • | 2 College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon
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Abstract

This study investigates wind-driven circulation in the vicinity of the Heceta Bank complex along the Oregon shelf. Numerical experiments forced with steady winds (0.1 Pa) are conducted; upwelling and downwelling cases are compared. The asymmetric bank bathymetry is the only configurational difference from the symmetric bank runs analyzed in Part I (Whitney and Allen). Upwelling-favorable winds generate an upwelling front and southward baroclinic jet. Model results indicate the upwelling jet is centered on the 100-m isobath along the straight shelf. The jet follows this isobath offshore around the northern part of the bank but separates from sharply turning isobaths in the southern half and flows over deeper waters. The jet turns back toward the coast farther downstream. Inshore of the main jet, currents reverse and flow back onto the bank. These reversed currents turn southward again (at the bank center) and join a secondary southward coastal upwelling jet. This secondary coastal jet converges with the stronger main jet farther downstream. Upwelling is intense at the northern bank edge near the coast, where a dense water tongue is advected over the bank. Upwelling also is strong on the southern bank half where the flow turns and reverses. Other areas of the bank have reduced upwelling or even downwelling during upwelling-favorable winds. Downwelling-favorable winds drive a near-bottom density front and a northward jet. The slower downwelling jet flows along the 130-m isobath over the straight shelf. The jet departs from isobaths over the southern bank half and follows a straighter path over shallower waters. There are no reversed currents over the bank. The bank is an area of reduced downwelling. Some of the differences in the evolution of the current and density fields are linked to fundamental differences between the upwelling and downwelling regimes; these are anticipated by the symmetric bank results of Part I. Other differences arise because of the bank asymmetry and opposite flow directions over the bank.

The lowest-order depth-averaged across-stream momentum balance remains geostrophic over the bank. Advection, ageostrophic pressure gradients, wind stress, and bottom stress all are important in the depth-averaged alongstream momentum balance over the Heceta Bank complex. Both across-shelf and alongshelf density advection are important. Barotropic potential vorticity is not conserved over the bank, but the tendency for relative vorticity changes and depth changes to partially counter each other influences the different paths of the upwelling and downwelling jets. There are several regions of active upwelling and downwelling over the bank. In these areas, vertical velocities at the top of the bottom boundary layer are linked to topographic upwelling and downwelling and Ekman pumping. There is considerable spatial variability in the currents, densities, and dynamics over the Heceta Bank complex.

Corresponding author address: Michael M. Whitney, Department of Marine Sciences, University of Connecticut, 1080 Shennecossett Road, Groton, CT 06340-6097. Email: michael.whitney@uconn.edu

Abstract

This study investigates wind-driven circulation in the vicinity of the Heceta Bank complex along the Oregon shelf. Numerical experiments forced with steady winds (0.1 Pa) are conducted; upwelling and downwelling cases are compared. The asymmetric bank bathymetry is the only configurational difference from the symmetric bank runs analyzed in Part I (Whitney and Allen). Upwelling-favorable winds generate an upwelling front and southward baroclinic jet. Model results indicate the upwelling jet is centered on the 100-m isobath along the straight shelf. The jet follows this isobath offshore around the northern part of the bank but separates from sharply turning isobaths in the southern half and flows over deeper waters. The jet turns back toward the coast farther downstream. Inshore of the main jet, currents reverse and flow back onto the bank. These reversed currents turn southward again (at the bank center) and join a secondary southward coastal upwelling jet. This secondary coastal jet converges with the stronger main jet farther downstream. Upwelling is intense at the northern bank edge near the coast, where a dense water tongue is advected over the bank. Upwelling also is strong on the southern bank half where the flow turns and reverses. Other areas of the bank have reduced upwelling or even downwelling during upwelling-favorable winds. Downwelling-favorable winds drive a near-bottom density front and a northward jet. The slower downwelling jet flows along the 130-m isobath over the straight shelf. The jet departs from isobaths over the southern bank half and follows a straighter path over shallower waters. There are no reversed currents over the bank. The bank is an area of reduced downwelling. Some of the differences in the evolution of the current and density fields are linked to fundamental differences between the upwelling and downwelling regimes; these are anticipated by the symmetric bank results of Part I. Other differences arise because of the bank asymmetry and opposite flow directions over the bank.

The lowest-order depth-averaged across-stream momentum balance remains geostrophic over the bank. Advection, ageostrophic pressure gradients, wind stress, and bottom stress all are important in the depth-averaged alongstream momentum balance over the Heceta Bank complex. Both across-shelf and alongshelf density advection are important. Barotropic potential vorticity is not conserved over the bank, but the tendency for relative vorticity changes and depth changes to partially counter each other influences the different paths of the upwelling and downwelling jets. There are several regions of active upwelling and downwelling over the bank. In these areas, vertical velocities at the top of the bottom boundary layer are linked to topographic upwelling and downwelling and Ekman pumping. There is considerable spatial variability in the currents, densities, and dynamics over the Heceta Bank complex.

Corresponding author address: Michael M. Whitney, Department of Marine Sciences, University of Connecticut, 1080 Shennecossett Road, Groton, CT 06340-6097. Email: michael.whitney@uconn.edu

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