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Wind Stress Curl and Coastal Upwelling in the Area of Monterey Bay Observed during AOSN-II

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  • 1 Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California
  • | 2 National Observatory of Athens, Athens, Greece
  • | 3 Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, Moss Landing, California
  • | 4 Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California
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Abstract

Aircraft measurements obtained during the 2003–04 Autonomous Ocean Sampling Network (AOSN-II) project were used to study the effect of small-scale variations of near-surface wind stress on coastal upwelling in the area of Monterey Bay. Using 5-km-long measurement segments at 35 m above the sea surface, wind stress and its curl were calculated with estimated accuracy of 0.02–0.03 N m−2 and 0.1–0.2 N m−2 per 100 kilometers, respectively. The spatial distribution of wind speed, wind stress, stress curl, and sea surface temperature were analyzed for four general wind conditions: northerly or southerly wind along the coastline, onshore flow, and offshore flow. Wind stress and speed maxima frequently were found to be noncollocated as bulk parameterizations imply owing to significant stability and nonhomogeneity effects at cold SST pools. The analyses revealed that complicated processes with different time scales (wind stress field variation, ocean response and upwelling, sea surface currents, and heating by solar radiation) affect the coastal sea surface temperature. It was found that the stress-curl-induced coastal upwelling only dominates in events during which positive curl extended systematically over a significant area (scales larger than 20 km). These events included cases with a northerly wind, which resulted in an expansion fan downstream from Point Año Nuevo (wind speed peaks greater than about 8–10 m s−1), and cases with an offshore/onshore flow, which are characterized by weak background upwelling due to Ekman transport. However, in general, observations show that cold pools of sea surface temperature in the central area of Monterey Bay were advected by ocean surface currents from strong upwelling regions. Aircraft vertical soundings taken in the bay area showed that dominant effects of the lee wave sheltering of coastal mountains resulted in weak atmospheric turbulence and affected the development of the atmospheric boundary layer. This effect causes low wind stress that limits upwelling, especially at the northern part of Monterey Bay. The sea surface temperature is generally warm in this part of the bay because of the shallow oceanic surface layer and solar heating of the upper ocean.

Corresponding author address: Dr. John Kalogiros, Institute of Environmental Research and Sustainable Development, National Observatory of Athens, Lofos Koufou, P. Penteli, Athens 15236, Greece. E-mail: jkalog@meteo.noa.gr

Abstract

Aircraft measurements obtained during the 2003–04 Autonomous Ocean Sampling Network (AOSN-II) project were used to study the effect of small-scale variations of near-surface wind stress on coastal upwelling in the area of Monterey Bay. Using 5-km-long measurement segments at 35 m above the sea surface, wind stress and its curl were calculated with estimated accuracy of 0.02–0.03 N m−2 and 0.1–0.2 N m−2 per 100 kilometers, respectively. The spatial distribution of wind speed, wind stress, stress curl, and sea surface temperature were analyzed for four general wind conditions: northerly or southerly wind along the coastline, onshore flow, and offshore flow. Wind stress and speed maxima frequently were found to be noncollocated as bulk parameterizations imply owing to significant stability and nonhomogeneity effects at cold SST pools. The analyses revealed that complicated processes with different time scales (wind stress field variation, ocean response and upwelling, sea surface currents, and heating by solar radiation) affect the coastal sea surface temperature. It was found that the stress-curl-induced coastal upwelling only dominates in events during which positive curl extended systematically over a significant area (scales larger than 20 km). These events included cases with a northerly wind, which resulted in an expansion fan downstream from Point Año Nuevo (wind speed peaks greater than about 8–10 m s−1), and cases with an offshore/onshore flow, which are characterized by weak background upwelling due to Ekman transport. However, in general, observations show that cold pools of sea surface temperature in the central area of Monterey Bay were advected by ocean surface currents from strong upwelling regions. Aircraft vertical soundings taken in the bay area showed that dominant effects of the lee wave sheltering of coastal mountains resulted in weak atmospheric turbulence and affected the development of the atmospheric boundary layer. This effect causes low wind stress that limits upwelling, especially at the northern part of Monterey Bay. The sea surface temperature is generally warm in this part of the bay because of the shallow oceanic surface layer and solar heating of the upper ocean.

Corresponding author address: Dr. John Kalogiros, Institute of Environmental Research and Sustainable Development, National Observatory of Athens, Lofos Koufou, P. Penteli, Athens 15236, Greece. E-mail: jkalog@meteo.noa.gr
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