A Nearshore Oceanic Front Induced By Wave Streaming

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  • 1 Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles, California, USA
  • | 2 Department of Civil Engineering, Kobe University, Kobe, Japan
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Abstract

Coastal fronts impact cross-shelf exchange of materials, such as plankton and nutrients, which are important to the ecosystems in continental shelves. Here using numerical simulation we demonstrate a nearshore front induced by wave streaming. Wave streaming is a bottom Eulerian current along the surface wave direction, and it is caused by the wave bottom dissipation. Wave streaming drives a Lagrangian overturning circulation in the inner shelf and pumps up deep and cold water into the overturning circulation. The water inside the overturning circulation is quickly mixed and cooled because of the wave streaming-enhanced viscosity. However, the offshore water outside the overturning circulation remains stratified and warmer. Hence, a front develops between the water inside and outside the overturning circulation. The front is unstable and generates submesoscale shelf eddies, which lead the offshore transport across the front. This study presents a new mechanism for coastal frontogenesis.

Corresponding author: Peng Wang, wangpeng@ucla.edu

Abstract

Coastal fronts impact cross-shelf exchange of materials, such as plankton and nutrients, which are important to the ecosystems in continental shelves. Here using numerical simulation we demonstrate a nearshore front induced by wave streaming. Wave streaming is a bottom Eulerian current along the surface wave direction, and it is caused by the wave bottom dissipation. Wave streaming drives a Lagrangian overturning circulation in the inner shelf and pumps up deep and cold water into the overturning circulation. The water inside the overturning circulation is quickly mixed and cooled because of the wave streaming-enhanced viscosity. However, the offshore water outside the overturning circulation remains stratified and warmer. Hence, a front develops between the water inside and outside the overturning circulation. The front is unstable and generates submesoscale shelf eddies, which lead the offshore transport across the front. This study presents a new mechanism for coastal frontogenesis.

Corresponding author: Peng Wang, wangpeng@ucla.edu
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