Numerical Model Studies of the Winter-Storm Response of the West Florida Shelf

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  • 1 Department of Oceanography, Florida State University, Tallahassee 32306
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Abstract

The wintertime, wind-driven Ocean circulation on the West Florida Continental Shelf is studied within the framework of a linearized storm-surge model. The model bathymetry incorporates a realistic shelf, extending from New Orleans to the southern tip of Florida, and a deep ocean region. The boundary condition at the coast is that there is no normal flow. At the open boundaries, located off the shelf in deep water, the adjusted sea level is fixed at zero.

It is found that 1) a coastally trapped response is achieved within one local inertial period following the imposition of the wind; 2) the curved coast forces a mass exchange between the coastal water and the deep ocean; 3) this exchange leads to the generation of a series of mesoscale eddies along the shelf edge; and 4) these eddies give rise to long-period, shelf-wide oscillations that persist beyond the local spin-up time.

A hindcast of the wind-driven flow on the West Florida Shelf for a particular period (11–25 March 1978) that contains the passage of a distinct cold front produces coastal sea-level and current fluctuations that are in reasonable agreement with observations.

Abstract

The wintertime, wind-driven Ocean circulation on the West Florida Continental Shelf is studied within the framework of a linearized storm-surge model. The model bathymetry incorporates a realistic shelf, extending from New Orleans to the southern tip of Florida, and a deep ocean region. The boundary condition at the coast is that there is no normal flow. At the open boundaries, located off the shelf in deep water, the adjusted sea level is fixed at zero.

It is found that 1) a coastally trapped response is achieved within one local inertial period following the imposition of the wind; 2) the curved coast forces a mass exchange between the coastal water and the deep ocean; 3) this exchange leads to the generation of a series of mesoscale eddies along the shelf edge; and 4) these eddies give rise to long-period, shelf-wide oscillations that persist beyond the local spin-up time.

A hindcast of the wind-driven flow on the West Florida Shelf for a particular period (11–25 March 1978) that contains the passage of a distinct cold front produces coastal sea-level and current fluctuations that are in reasonable agreement with observations.

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