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R. Pawlowicz


Beaches, especially at or above the high tide line, are often covered in debris. An obvious approach to understanding the source of this debris elsewhere in the ocean is to use Lagrangian methods (observationally or in numerical simulations). However, the actual grounding of these floating objects, that is, the transition between freely floating near the coast and motionless on land, is poorly understood. Here, 800 groundings from a recent circulation project using expendable tracked drifters in the Salish Sea are statistically analyzed. Although the grounding process for individual drifters can be complex and highly variable, suitable analyses show that the complications of coastlines can be statistically summarized in meaningful ways. The velocity structure approaching the coastline suggests a quasi-steady “log-layer” associated with coastline friction. Although groundings are marginally more likely to occur at higher tides, there are many counterexamples and the preference is not overwhelming. The actual grounding process is then well modeled as a stationary process using a classical eddy-diffusivity formulation, and the eddy diffusivity that best matches observations is similar to that appearing in open waters away from the coast. A new parameter in this formulation is equivalent to a mean shoreward velocity for floating objects, which could vary with beach morphology and also (in theory) be measured offshore. Finally, it appears that currently used ad hoc beaching parameterizations should be reasonably successful in qualitative terms, but are unlikely to be quantitatively accurate enough for predictions of grounding mass budgets and fluxes.

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W. M. L. Morawitz, P. J. Sutton, P. F. Worcester, B. D. Cornuelle, J. F. Lynch, and R. Pawlowicz


All available temperature data, including moored thermistor, hydrographic, and tomographic measurements, have been combined using least-squares inverse methods to study the evolution of the three-dimensional temperature field in the Greenland Sea during winter 1988/89. The data are adequate to resolve features with spatial scales of about 40 km and larger. A chimney structure reaching depths in excess of 1000 m is observed to the southwest of the gyre center during March 1989. The chimney has a spatial scale of about 50 km, near the limit of the spatial resolution of the data, and a timescale of about 10 days. The chimney structure breaks up and disappears in only 3–6 days. A one-dimensional vertical heat balance adequately describes changes in total heat content in the chimney region from autumn 1988 until the time of chimney breakup, when horizontal advection becomes important. A simple, one-dimensional mixed layer model is surprisingly successful in reproducing autumn to winter bulk temperature and salinity changes, as well as the observed evolution of the mixed layer to depths in excess of 1000 m. Uncertainties in surface freshwater fluxes make it difficult to determine, whether net evaporation minus precipitation, or ice advection, is responsible for the observed depth-averaged salinity increase front autumn to winter in the chimney region. Rough estimates of the potential energy balance in the mixed layer suggest that potential energy changes are reasonably consistent with turbulent kinetic energy (TKE) production terms. Initially the TKE term parameterizing wind forcing and sheer production is important, but as the mixed layer deepens the surface buoyancy production term dominates. The estimated average annual deep-water production rate in the Greenland Sea for 1988/89 is about 0.1 Sverdrups, comparable to production rates during the 1980s and early 1990s derived from tracer measurements. The location of the deep convection observed appears to be sensitively linked to the amount of Arctic Intermediate Water (AIW) present from autumn through spring. Although ATW is an important source of salt for the surface waters, too much AIW overstratifies the water column, preventing deep convection from occurring.

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