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    (right) Map of the Monterey Bay showing the three mooring locations (SHB, TPT, and HMS; filled circles), the offshore NDBC 46042 buoy (triangle), and the local wind stations [Long Marine Lab (LML), Hopkins Marine Station (HMS); triangles] with corresponding monthly climatologies during 2004–09. Contours show the 10-, 20-, and 50-m isobaths. Black arrows show regional wind direction. Gray arrows show local diurnal wind direction across the bay. Axes for each mooring site are shown next to the mooring location. Along- and cross-shelf wind stress relative to outer coast orientation and significant wave height are shown for NDBC 46042 and the observed cross-shelf transport (negative offshore) computed from ADCP records is shown for the three sites. Dashed line in each panel is the annual mean.

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    Correlation coefficient r as a function of ADCP bin depth for the three sites [(a),(b) SHB; (c),(d) TPT; and (e),(f) HMS], of low-pass-filtered cross-shelf velocity in each ADCP bin with along-shelf wind stress τWy (circles), cross-shelf wind stress τWy (diamonds), bottom stress τBy, and wave forcing −Uw (squares) at zero lag, assuming one independent point every 24 h, during the nonupwelling season (October–March) in (a),(c),(e) and upwelling season (April–September) in (b),(d),(f). Solid (open) symbols show correlations that are (are not) significant at the 95% confidence level.

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    Ekman transport estimated for along-shelf wind stress and bottom stress at TPT during upwelling season of 2007. Wind stress computed from Long Marine Laboratory using Large and Pond (1981). Bottom stress computed from bottom ADCP bin. The x axis is in Julian days.

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    (a),(b) Correlation coefficient r and (c),(d) regression coefficient a as a function of ADCP bin depth for northern bay inner-shelf sites [SHB in (a),(c); TPT in (b),(d)] of band-pass-filtered (20–2-h period) cross-shelf velocity in each ADCP bin with along-shelf wind stress τWy (circles), cross-shelf wind stress τWx (diamonds), bottom stress τBy (triangles), and wave forcing −Uw (squares) at zero lag, assuming one independent point every 24 h, during the upwelling season only (April–September). Wind stress computed from local wind observations from LML. Solid (open) symbols show correlations that are (are not) significant at the 95% confidence level.

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    Mean along- and cross-shelf velocity profiles during low wave conditions (Hsig < 0.75 m) at TPT for high (uH, υH; ∣τWy∣ > 0.03 N m−2) and low (uL, υL; ∣τWy∣ < 0.03 N m−2) along-shelf wind stress.

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    (a) Significant wave height Hsig, (b) wave direction, and (c) estimated Stokes transport Uw for each mooring location as a function of the regional along-shelf wind stress (negative upwelling favorable) from the NDBC 46042 mooring. In (b), dashed lines show along-shelf orientation of three moorings [cos(θw) ~ 0]. In (c), symbols are for SHB (black circles), TPT (gray squares), and HMS (dark gray triangles).

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    (top) Histogram of wave direction during upwelling season measured at 20-m depth approximately 300 m from coast and (bottom) typical cross-shelf depth profile for sites in Monterey Bay. In the top panel, the solid line shows coast orientation.

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    Mean cross-shelf velocity profiles at SHB during low along-shelf wind conditions (|τWy| > 0.03 N m−2; October–March) for periods of low (Hsig < 0.75 m), middle (0.75 < Hsig < 2 m), and high (Hsig > 2 m) swell. Dashed lines are the theoretical wave-driven return flow profile computed from (7) for Hsig = 1.5 and 2.5 m, the mean values of Hsig for the respective bins.

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    Cross-shelf (real) component of the EOFs of the complex velocity for (a) SHB, (b) TPT, and (c) HMS showing variance explained.

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    Observed (local wind) vs theoretical mass transport binned by wind stress from classical Ekman theory at (a) TPT, (b) surface and bottom Ekman depths, and (c) correlation results (correlation and regression coefficients) for local winds including νx. In (a), cross-shelf transport is computed as (gray circles, dashed gray line), and with adjustment for large-scale vorticity as (black circles, dashed black line). Solid black line in (a) shows 1:1 fit of observed data to theoretical estimates. Mean error estimates (std dev) from binned values are shown next to reported statistics. In (b), δs and δb computed as the depth of or u(Nf)−1/2, respectively. Mean (circle), first (bars) and second (tails) std dev shown. In (c), significant correlations are filled circles.

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    Map of (top left) northern and (bottom right) southern regions of Monterey Bay showing locations moorings (open circles), HF radar nodes (dots), and mean location (stars) of HF radar nodes (larger dots) used in vorticity computation. Here, L is the distance used in computation of υx.

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    Comparison of ADCP and HF radar-derived along-shelf velocities from (left) TPT and (right) comparable estimates of υx for high and low wind conditions.

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    Time series of (top) 40-h low-pass-filtered regional along-shelf wind stress τWy from NDBC 46042 and (bottom) vorticity ζ computed over northern bay from high-frequency radar and depth-averaged along-shelf 40-h low-pass-filtered ADCP. Coriolis parameter f shown in bottom panel (dashed gray line). Shaded regions indicate relaxation periods.

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    Canonical day estimates of along-shelf momentum balance terms for (a) surface layer, (b) bottom layer, and (c) total, along with (d) momentum balance residual for TPT (−gHηy) during the upwelling season. The yδs and zδs are not shown because of low values. Shaded bounds are 95% confidence intervals. Shaded region at top shows period of northward front propagation typically crossing mooring location.

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Spatiotemporal Variation in Cross-Shelf Exchange across the Inner Shelf of Monterey Bay, California

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  • 1 COBIA Lab, College of Engineering, The University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia
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Abstract

Cross-shelf exchange resulting from wind- and wave-driven flows across the inner shelf has been the focus of a considerable body of work. This contribution extends recent analyses to the central California coastline using 5-yr of moored current observations. Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP) data from stations across the Monterey Bay (two in the northern bay and one in the southern bay), in water depths of ~20 m, showed net offshore transport throughout the year. For the northern bay sites, cross-shelf exchange was dominated by Ekman transport driven by along-shelf diurnal sea breezes during the upwelling season. Intense stratification in the northern bay leads to very shallow observed Ekman layers (~5–8 m), and consequently no overlap between bottom and surface Ekman layers within a few hundred meters of the coast. The total transport is less than predicted by theory consistent with models of shallow-water Ekman transport. The observed transport (~42% of full Ekman transport) is shown to be caused by the influence of a positive vorticity that effectively increases the Coriolis parameter. Wave-driven return flow estimated from an offshore buoy was strongly correlated with observed transport during nonupwelling conditions for the northern, outer bay site, but not for the two inner bay sites (northern and southern). In the southern bay, winds and waves have a significantly reduced effect on the cross-shelf exchange. Internal tidal bores are believed to contribute most of the observed cross-shelf exchange in this region.

Corresponding author address: C. Brock Woodson, COBIA Lab, College of Engineering, The University of Georgia, 712H Boyd Graduate Studies, 200 D.W. Brooks Drive, Athens, GA 30602. E-mail: bwoodson@uga.edu

Abstract

Cross-shelf exchange resulting from wind- and wave-driven flows across the inner shelf has been the focus of a considerable body of work. This contribution extends recent analyses to the central California coastline using 5-yr of moored current observations. Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP) data from stations across the Monterey Bay (two in the northern bay and one in the southern bay), in water depths of ~20 m, showed net offshore transport throughout the year. For the northern bay sites, cross-shelf exchange was dominated by Ekman transport driven by along-shelf diurnal sea breezes during the upwelling season. Intense stratification in the northern bay leads to very shallow observed Ekman layers (~5–8 m), and consequently no overlap between bottom and surface Ekman layers within a few hundred meters of the coast. The total transport is less than predicted by theory consistent with models of shallow-water Ekman transport. The observed transport (~42% of full Ekman transport) is shown to be caused by the influence of a positive vorticity that effectively increases the Coriolis parameter. Wave-driven return flow estimated from an offshore buoy was strongly correlated with observed transport during nonupwelling conditions for the northern, outer bay site, but not for the two inner bay sites (northern and southern). In the southern bay, winds and waves have a significantly reduced effect on the cross-shelf exchange. Internal tidal bores are believed to contribute most of the observed cross-shelf exchange in this region.

Corresponding author address: C. Brock Woodson, COBIA Lab, College of Engineering, The University of Georgia, 712H Boyd Graduate Studies, 200 D.W. Brooks Drive, Athens, GA 30602. E-mail: bwoodson@uga.edu

1. Introduction

Wind- and wave-driven flows play important roles in cross-shelf exchange and consequently influence the transport of nutrients, pollutants, larvae, and heat to and from coastal ecosystems (Lentz 1994; Kirincich et al. 2005; Fewings et al. 2008; Lentz et al. 2008; Kirincich et al. 2009; Hendrickson and MacMahan 2009; Lentz and Fewings 2012). These drivers of cross-shelf exchange scale with depth and distance from shore (Fewings et al. 2008). However, along-shelf variability in cross-shelf exchange and scaling of dominant drivers as a result of changes in coastline orientation, bathymetry, winds, waves, and stratification have not yet been addressed at scales relevant to coastal ecosystem variability. For example, stratification can interact with wind and wave forcing dramatically altering cross-shelf exchange and influencing ecosystem processes in coastal habitats (McPhee-Shaw et al. 2007; Pineda 1999; Lentz and Fewings 2012). Consequently, understanding the spatial and temporal variability of, and the influence of stratification on, cross-shelf exchange provides unique insights into inner-shelf circulation and dynamics.

The inner shelf is defined as the region where surface and bottom Ekman layers cannot fully develop or tend to overlap effectively reducing cross-shelf transport as a result of along-shelf wind stress (Ekman 1905; Lentz 1994). Consequently, Lentz (1994) proposed a linear modification of wind-driven Ekman transport based on water column depth to account for reduced upwelling in shallow water. Kirincich et al. (2005) extended these analyses and found reasonable agreement to the Lentz (1994) model for the Oregon coast. Such observations of reduced Ekman transport in shallow water confirmed a limited role of along-shelf winds in driving cross-shelf circulation that scales with distance from the coast. Closer to the coast, cross-shelf winds act to push water in the direction of the wind leading directly to upwelling or downwelling (Fewings et al. 2008). As water depth continues to decrease, the action of cross-shelf winds is to thoroughly mix the water column, and as a result, surface wave–driven exchange becomes increasingly important (Lentz 2001; Fewings et al. 2008).

In the very near shore, surface gravity waves can force substantial, subtidal offshore flows on the order of 2–3 cm s−1. Lentz et al. (2008) demonstrated that this vertically sheared, surface-intensified Eulerian offshore transport is correlated with estimates of on-shelf transport resulting from Stokes drift during relatively low wind conditions using a 5-yr dataset from the Martha's Vineyard Coastal Observatory (MVCO). This return flow may also confound exchange previously attributed to wind-driven cross-shelf circulation. Consequently, Fewings et al. (2008) and Kirincich et al. (2009) expanded these analyses to more variable conditions at the MVCO and to the Oregon Coast, respectively. Fewings et al. (2008) observed that surface wave–driven return flows had a large effect on the cross-shelf circulation, although exchange was largely driven by cross-shelf wind stress. Kirincich et al. (2009) found that the surface wave–driven return flow was weakly correlated with, but had little effect on, observed transports at the same sites analyzed in an earlier study (Kirincich et al. 2005). While these studies have provided a critical framework for understanding dynamics on the inner shelf, many questions still remain concerning the relative importance of wind- and wave-driven cross-shelf circulation especially in the presence of strong stratification (Lentz and Fewings 2012).

For example, Woodson et al. (2007) found a strong upwelling-like response to local diurnal along-shelf wind forcing inshore of the 20-m isobath (≲300 m from the shore) that may have been confounded by cross-shelf winds and surface wave–driven return flows along the coast of northern Monterey Bay (Fig. 1). In this region, intense stratification leads to a two-layer system with warm (up to 16°C, 5–8 m deep) waters overlying cold, recently upwelled waters (~8°C). During afternoon sea breezes, the thermocline was observed to shoal significantly and often reached the surface. The inertial period for this region is ~20 h, which is comparable to the diurnal wind forcing signal (24 h). Thus, resonant effects of the diurnal wind on the cross-shelf circulation may also have influenced these observations. A further study on the interior shelf of northern Monterey Bay found that closure of the heat budget was achieved through a combination of cross-shelf Ekman transport and along-shelf advection (Suanda et al. 2011). Cross-shelf Ekman transport from the one month record during 2007 was estimated to be approximately 76% of the theoretical values consistent with the Lentz (1994) model for this site in northern Monterey Bay. In contrast, Hendrickson and MacMahan (2009) found that cross-shelf winds and wave-driven flows drive cross-shelf exchange in the south-central portion of Monterey Bay, along a section of westward-facing coastline with a smooth, linear bathymetry (Fig. 1). These observed differences in cross-shelf exchange across a relatively small region raise questions about the spatial and temporal variability in cross-shelf exchange along the coast.

Fig. 1.
Fig. 1.

(right) Map of the Monterey Bay showing the three mooring locations (SHB, TPT, and HMS; filled circles), the offshore NDBC 46042 buoy (triangle), and the local wind stations [Long Marine Lab (LML), Hopkins Marine Station (HMS); triangles] with corresponding monthly climatologies during 2004–09. Contours show the 10-, 20-, and 50-m isobaths. Black arrows show regional wind direction. Gray arrows show local diurnal wind direction across the bay. Axes for each mooring site are shown next to the mooring location. Along- and cross-shelf wind stress relative to outer coast orientation and significant wave height are shown for NDBC 46042 and the observed cross-shelf transport (negative offshore) computed from ADCP records is shown for the three sites. Dashed line in each panel is the annual mean.

Citation: Journal of Physical Oceanography 43, 8; 10.1175/JPO-D-11-0185.1

This contribution extends the analyses of Lentz et al. (2008) and others (e.g., Fewings et al. 2008; Kirincich et al. 2009; Hendrickson and MacMahan 2009) to additional sites along the coast of Monterey Bay [including the site used in Suanda et al. (2011)] using a set of long-term (5 yr) ADCP and temperature observations to address the role of wind- and wave-driven transports on cross-shelf exchange (Woodson et al. 2007, 2009). Significant correlations were found between along-shelf wind stress and cross-shelf currents in the northern bay during the upwelling season (April–October) and between cross-shelf currents and surface gravity waves during nonupwelling periods on the outer coast. During the upwelling season, observed Ekman flows in the northern bay caused by a strong diurnal sea breeze follow the Lentz (1994) model for shallow water depths. It is further shown that 1) the surface Ekman layer is fully developed, 2) the surface and bottom Ekman layers do not (or extremely rarely) overlap as a result of strong stratification present during upwelling, and 3) the bulk Richardson number is consistently large. A net positive subtidal vorticity resulting from a strong horizontal (cross shelf) shear in the along-shelf flow υx in the northern bay acts to reduce the theoretical Ekman transport and spinup. Thus, the region inside the 20-m isobath (located within a few hundred meters of the coast at the study sites) in the Monterey Bay is rarely within the inner shelf as defined in Lentz and Fewings (2012).

Data collection methods and analyses are outlined in section 2. Results are then presented for both correlation analysis between depth-dependent flows and forcing variables and EOFs of the complex velocity in section 3. The influence of vorticity on the cross-shelf circulation is discussed in section 4. Finally, a discussion and summary are presented in sections 5 and 6, respectively.

2. Data and methods

Location and data

The Monterey Bay is a semienclosed embayment located along the eastern Pacific Ocean between 36.6° and 37.2°N (Fig. 1). This region of central California is within the California Current upwelling system and is dominated by along-shelf winds through much of the year. Offshore winds are oriented along shelf toward the equator (northwesterly winds, black arrow; Fig. 1) with brief periods of relaxation or reversal. Strong diurnal winds develop within the bay during regional upwelling conditions (Banta et al. 1993). These sea breezes (gray arrows, Fig. 1) occur when air temperatures over the Salinas Valley to the southeast warm significantly creating a strong pressure gradient between the Monterey Bay and the adjacent valley.

During active regional upwelling, a southward upwelling jet originates near Point Año Nuevo and travels across the mouth of the bay (Rosenfeld et al. 1994) and surface waters within the bay warm considerably. This process creates a 5–8-m-deep warm lens of less-dense water over the shelf within the bay. Temperature differences between surface waters within the bay and upwelling jet/deeper waters within the bay can be as high as 8°C (Woodson et al. 2009). Salinity within the bay varies minimally during active upwelling because of minimal freshwater runoff and because waters within the bay typically originate from the same source (Point Año Nuevo). The northern bay is exposed to a wide range of swell and wind conditions throughout the annual cycle. In contrast, the southern bay is largely shielded from dominant swell and winds especially during the summer upwelling season. During nonupwelling months (November–March), circulation within and around the bay is more variable and surface waves tend to be larger in magnitude (Breaker and Broenkow 1994). This contrast between upwelling and nonupwelling conditions and the gradient in exposure to winds and waves across the bay provide a natural platform to evaluate cross-shelf exchange related to wind- and wave-driven flows.

Time series (5 yr) of depth-dependent currents are taken from three monitoring sites within Monterey Bay maintained by the Partnership for the Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans (PISCO). Sandhill Bluff (SHB) and Terrace Point (TPT) are separated by approximately 10 km along a stretch of coastline where the mean orientation changes from 305° (southeast–northwest) to 270° (east–west, Fig. 1; Table 1). SHB is along the outer coast and is exposed to higher wind and wave forcing than TPT located within the Monterey Bay. Both sites are strongly influenced by the diurnal winds that develop during the upwelling season. In the southern bay, the Hopkins Marine Station (HMS) site is located on the inner side of the Monterey Peninsula (Fig. 1; Table 1). This site is largely protected from southern and western swell. Along-shelf coordinates are determined from the average orientation of local isobaths within 5 km of each mooring (Fig. 1; Table 1). Dominant currents follow isobaths at all three locations as determined from principal axes (Drake et al. 2005).

Table 1.

Local conditions at the three mooring locations.

Table 1.

Acoustic Doppler Current Profilers (ADCPs) recorded depth-dependent currents using 45-ping ensembles recorded every 2 min during 2004–09. Nearby moorings recorded temperature (Hobo Tidbits) every 2 min at 0-, 4-, 11-, and 19-m depth. All data gaps longer than 12 h were discarded from the analysis. SHB had 5 significant data gaps of 15, 49, 47, 30, 20, and 38 days (Table 1). TPT had 4 significant data gaps of 8, 22, 9, and 14 days. HMS had 3 significant data gaps of 12, 87, and 70 days. Additional data gaps of less than 12 h were filled using linear interpolation. Meteorological and swell data (significant wave height and direction) were obtained from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)–National Data Buoy Center (NDBC) 46042 mooring located approximately 30 km offshore along the central axis of the Monterey Bay (Fig. 1). Swell height and direction from the offshore mooring were compared with data available from local Coastal Data Information Program (CDIP; http://cdip.ucsd.edu/) moorings in the Monterey Bay, which provide nearshore hourly directional wave spectra. These comparisons showed minimal refraction between the offshore and the 20-m isobath at all locations. Swell direction was rotated into a frame of reference with the positive y oriented poleward and positive x oriented onshore for each site. Local winds were obtained from either Long Marine Laboratory (LML; University of California, Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, California; Fig. 1) or from Hopkins Marine Station (HMS; Stanford University, Pacific Grove, California, Fig. 1). Both components (along and cross shelf) of the wind stress were computed from both the local (LML and HMS) and regional (NDBC 46042) wind data using Large and Pond (1981). Estimates of bottom boundary layer Ekman transport were estimated from the along-shelf velocity in the ADCP bin closest to the bed using the linearized drag formulation , and setting m s−1 for a smooth sandy bottom (Lentz 1994). All data cover the period from 1 January 2004 to 31 December 2009, were recorded at 2–5-min sampling rates, and were subsequently filtered to create hourly-averaged data for analyses. Hourly-averaged current data were then filtered using either a 40- (regional analyses) or a 20-h low-pass filter (local analyses). The 20-h low-pass filter (12 pole, Butterworth) attenuated less than 5% of the diurnal band variability. Here, K1 tidal currents for the 20-h-filtered data were removed using T-TIDE (Pawlowicz et al. 2002) for each bin depth to account for the bottom boundary layer. For analysis of the cross-shelf velocity and exchange, the current profiles are separated into a depth-averaged and depth-dependent component:
e1
where
e2
The cross-shelf transport is then computed from the velocity profiles by either assuming the velocity in the top-most ADCP bin extended to the surface, or by linearly extrapolating the top-most bins of the ADCP to the surface and integrating as
e3
where is the first observed zero crossing of the velocity profile . Both methods yielded similar results, and results from the linear extrapolation method are reported here. For all analyses, we adopt a west coast coordinate system, where x is the cross-shelf direction (positive onshore) and y is the along-shelf direction (positive poleward).

3. Correlation and EOF analysis

The objective of this section is to identify the relative importance of primary contributors to cross-shelf exchange in the Monterey Bay with a particular focus on winds, surface waves, and bottom boundary layer dynamics. Climatological monthly means for both components of the wind stress and surface wave height are computed from NDBC 46042 (Fig. 1). Cross-shelf wind stress is minimal throughout the year, although it can be episodically high during winter storm events. Along-shelf wind stress is negative throughout the year and stronger during upwelling months (March–August). Significant wave height is higher and more variable during the winter (nonupwelling) months as a result of winter storms and decreases to a minimum in late summer (July–September).

All mooring locations show a net offshore transport with stronger and more variable transport in the northern bay, which is subject to more intense wind and wave forcing (Fig. 1). Peaks in cross-shelf transport in the northern bay shift from February to March and June to July at SHB (outer bay), corresponding to an increase in the net along-shelf wind stress, to August–October for the inner bay site (TPT). In contrast, the southern bay site (HMS) shows low net cross-shelf transport and minimal seasonal variation. These patterns are likely due to a combination of wind and wave forcing that varies not only temporally (Fig. 1) but spatially as well. To address the relative contributions of winds and surface waves to cross-shelf exchange in Monterey Bay, the theoretical underpinnings of each are outlined in the following subsections.

a. Wind-forced flows

Along-shelf wind stress leads to a net cross-shelf transport to the right (left) in the Northern (Southern) Hemisphere. Ekman (1905) estimated the net transport resulting from a surface wind stress for a linear coastline and general assumptions about the flow. These results can be obtained by integrating the along-shelf momentum balance over the surface layer:
e4
where u, υ, and w are the cross-shelf, along-shelf, and vertical velocity components with subscripts indicating differentiation. The along-shelf pressure gradient is Py, and δs is the depth of the surface Ekman layer, which is taken as following previous observational studies (Lentz 2001; Kirincich et al. 2005; Fewings et al. 2008). The Coriolis parameter f is taken to be 0.875 × 10−4 s−1 corresponding to a latitude of 37°N. The effect of the Coriolis term for the depth-averaged flow is considered negligible relative to the surface flow term over long time periods as computed from the ADCP records (estimates given). However, fudaδs can be episodically important owing to the formation of coastal eddies and filaments. For a steady, uniform flow with no along-shelf pressure gradient, (4) reduces to the classical Ekman transport equation when flow is linear and stress at base of the surface layer approaches zero (Ekman 1905):
e5

On the inner shelf, water depths that are less than the Ekman layer depth or considerable overlap of the surface and bottom Ekman layers lead to wind-driven transport in the direction of the wind (Fewings et al. 2008). Cross-shelf wind stress in this region that acts toward (away from) the shore acts to raise (lower) sea level near the coast with a downwelling (upwelling) type response of the mean circulation.

b. Surface gravity wave–driven flows

Surface waves transport fluid onshore between the crests and troughs via Stokes drift. Because of this net onshore transport, a return flow develops below the surface waves. The wave-driven, subtidal circulation can be estimated from the onshore Stokes transport as
e6
for time scales much longer than the wave period (Lentz et al. 2008). Here, θw is the orientation of the waves to the coast. In a Lagrangian reference frame, the Stokes velocity becomes depth dependent as
e7
In this formulation, ω is the wave frequency, k is the wavenumber, and H is the local water depth. Outside of the surf zone, the Coriolis parameter becomes important, and an Eulerian return flow directly opposes this onshore transport (Hasselmann 1970; Monismith et al. 2007; Lentz et al. 2008) as a result of an along-crest wave stress, often called the Coriolis–Stokes force (Polton et al. 2005):
e8

Combining (7) and (8) yields the theoretical Eulerian return flow uH that directly opposes the Stokes transport uST, when the Coriolis term balances the Coriolis–Stokes forcing. This condition exists when the fluid is considered inviscid or when the Stokes layer δST is much greater than the Ekman layer depth δs. These theoretical results have been observed in laboratory flume studies (Monismith et al. 2007) and in the field (Lentz et al. 2008; Kirincich et al. 2009). Field observations however are mixed and observations of no net transport have been reported for the Monterey Bay shelf (Rosman et al. 2007).

Surface waves are often generated by either remote or local winds. If generated locally, the resulting cross-shelf transport can then be attributed to a time-lagged wind response. I classify this response as wave driven because it is still fundamentally a result of surface waves as opposed to other forms of cross-shelf transport described above. Analysis of local wind forcing as a driver of short-period waves that contribute to cross-shelf exchange is beyond the scope of the current study. However, during the upwelling season, local winds are the source of much of the surface wave energy, and consequently, the direction of wave travel is roughly along shelf (mean wave direction at CDIP mooring in 20 m of water located 300 m from the shore during 2004–09: 319.6° ± 10.7°; Table 1). Therefore, because θw is ~90° during the upwelling season for these sites, locally generated short-period surface waves are not expected to contribute significantly to cross-shelf exchange.

c. Bottom boundary layer dynamics

Along-shelf flows driven by remote forcing, pressure gradients, or tides can also force considerable cross-shelf exchange through bottom stress–driven Ekman transport (Brink 1997). In this case, the bottom stress is dependent on the flow velocity and the bed roughness that generates the frictional bed stress. Along the Monterey Bay coast, a poleward (equatorward) along-shelf current will create an equatorward (poleward) bed stress and consequently an offshore (onshore) bottom layer transport. Through continuity these flows can drive an upwelling (equatorward current) or downwelling (poleward current) response on the inner shelf that may contribute significantly to observed cross-shelf exchange.

d. Multiple regression analysis

To address the above forcing mechanisms, I conducted a multiple regression with each bin depth of the ADCP record as the response variable, and the expected contributors to cross-shelf exchange, regional, or local winds (along and cross shelf), surface waves, and bottom stress (Fewings et al. 2008). For each mooring, winds were rotated into local coordinate axes and converted to scaled wind stress . Bottom stress was also scaled as for the multiple regression. Surface wave transport was converted to −Uw in order to account for changes in coastline orientation.

Correlation analysis of the low-pass-filtered ADCP and NDBC records suggests that surface wave–driven circulation contributes to the observed cross-shelf transport during both the upwelling and nonupwelling season at the outer bay site (SHB), but not at the inner bay sites (Fig. 2). During the upwelling season, cross-shelf transport is driven by along-shelf winds at the northern bay sites, although there is still a contribution from surface wave–driven circulation at the outer bay site (SHB) because of the periodic arrival of remotely generated south swells. Correlations for all variables were weak and nonsignificant throughout both periods in the southern bay. Similarly, correlations with the bottom stress were also weak and nonsignificant at both northern bay sites.

Fig. 2.
Fig. 2.

Correlation coefficient r as a function of ADCP bin depth for the three sites [(a),(b) SHB; (c),(d) TPT; and (e),(f) HMS], of low-pass-filtered cross-shelf velocity in each ADCP bin with along-shelf wind stress τWy (circles), cross-shelf wind stress τWy (diamonds), bottom stress τBy, and wave forcing −Uw (squares) at zero lag, assuming one independent point every 24 h, during the nonupwelling season (October–March) in (a),(c),(e) and upwelling season (April–September) in (b),(d),(f). Solid (open) symbols show correlations that are (are not) significant at the 95% confidence level.

Citation: Journal of Physical Oceanography 43, 8; 10.1175/JPO-D-11-0185.1

During the upwelling season, the Monterey Bay is forced by strong diurnal sea breezes (Fig. 3; Banta et al. 1993; Woodson et al. 2007, 2009). For the outer portions of the bay, these winds are along shelf as opposed to typical cross-shelf sea breezes (Fig. 1). The diurnal sea breeze, combined with local stratification drives an upwelling-like signal on the inner shelf. Correlation analysis of the primary forcing mechanisms using the local wind observations show a strong correlation between cross-shelf transport and the along-shelf local diurnal wind signal at both SHB and TPT during the upwelling season (Fig. 4). The correlations in Fig. 2 result from a correlation between the low-pass-filtered NDBC wind stress and the low-pass-filtered local wind stress because the diurnal wind signal is only present during active regional upwelling (Woodson et al. 2007). This correlation is not present during nonupwelling months because of the absence of a persistent along-shelf wind signal near the coast. Slopes of the regression fit over the depth are relatively small, but integrated over the surface layer yield coefficients that agree reasonably well with the Lentz (1994) model. This results from (3) and taking b = 0:
e9
where C is the proportion of full Ekman transport from the Lentz model, yielding
e10
Fig. 3.
Fig. 3.

Ekman transport estimated for along-shelf wind stress and bottom stress at TPT during upwelling season of 2007. Wind stress computed from Long Marine Laboratory using Large and Pond (1981). Bottom stress computed from bottom ADCP bin. The x axis is in Julian days.

Citation: Journal of Physical Oceanography 43, 8; 10.1175/JPO-D-11-0185.1

Fig. 4.
Fig. 4.

(a),(b) Correlation coefficient r and (c),(d) regression coefficient a as a function of ADCP bin depth for northern bay inner-shelf sites [SHB in (a),(c); TPT in (b),(d)] of band-pass-filtered (20–2-h period) cross-shelf velocity in each ADCP bin with along-shelf wind stress τWy (circles), cross-shelf wind stress τWx (diamonds), bottom stress τBy (triangles), and wave forcing −Uw (squares) at zero lag, assuming one independent point every 24 h, during the upwelling season only (April–September). Wind stress computed from local wind observations from LML. Solid (open) symbols show correlations that are (are not) significant at the 95% confidence level.

Citation: Journal of Physical Oceanography 43, 8; 10.1175/JPO-D-11-0185.1

Cross-shelf velocity profiles during weak wave conditions illustrate the contribution of poleward along-shelf currents and the resulting negative bed stress in driving a weak offshore transport in the bottom Ekman layer in the northern bay (Fig. 5). Estimates of bottom layer Ekman transport were at least an order of magnitude less than surface Ekman layer transport (Fig. 3). During high along-shelf wind stress, offshore Ekman transport with an interior (nonfrictional) return flow is observed (uH; solid black line in Fig. 5). The offshore flow in the bottom Ekman layer is also reversed during periods of high along-shelf wind stress. During both periods, the along-shelf flow is consistently poleward with minimal shear in the upper layer (3–7-m depth). These profiles further support a dominant role of the along-shelf wind in driving cross-shelf exchange in northern Monterey Bay.

Fig. 5.
Fig. 5.

Mean along- and cross-shelf velocity profiles during low wave conditions (Hsig < 0.75 m) at TPT for high (uH, υH; ∣τWy∣ > 0.03 N m−2) and low (uL, υL; ∣τWy∣ < 0.03 N m−2) along-shelf wind stress.

Citation: Journal of Physical Oceanography 43, 8; 10.1175/JPO-D-11-0185.1

Cross-shelf exchange driven by surface waves can be a signal of a lagged wind response. Correlation between wind stress and surface waves give an initial indication of the indirect response of the inner-shelf circulation to local/regional wind forcing (Fig. 6a). However, during the upwelling season , when along-shelf winds are the largest contributor to cross-shelf exchange, surface gravity waves are most often oriented nearly parallel [cos(θw) ~ 0] to the coast leading to minimal net transport Uw (Figs. 6b,c). Although refraction of waves as a result of the sloping bottom typically yields waves that are close to perpendicular to the coast, the particular bathymetry of Monterey Bay (relatively flat with steep slope close to shore) does not allow for significant refraction (Fig. 7). Therefore waves tend to impinge the coast close to their offshore direction of travel.

Fig. 6.
Fig. 6.

(a) Significant wave height Hsig, (b) wave direction, and (c) estimated Stokes transport Uw for each mooring location as a function of the regional along-shelf wind stress (negative upwelling favorable) from the NDBC 46042 mooring. In (b), dashed lines show along-shelf orientation of three moorings [cos(θw) ~ 0]. In (c), symbols are for SHB (black circles), TPT (gray squares), and HMS (dark gray triangles).

Citation: Journal of Physical Oceanography 43, 8; 10.1175/JPO-D-11-0185.1

Fig. 7.
Fig. 7.

(top) Histogram of wave direction during upwelling season measured at 20-m depth approximately 300 m from coast and (bottom) typical cross-shelf depth profile for sites in Monterey Bay. In the top panel, the solid line shows coast orientation.

Citation: Journal of Physical Oceanography 43, 8; 10.1175/JPO-D-11-0185.1

Surface wave orientation relative to the coast supports much higher cross-shelf transport during winter storm events where winds and waves tend to be episodically stronger and cross shelf (τWy > 0, Fig. 6c; Breaker and Broenkow 1994). Surface wave–driven return flows were observed during winter at the SHB site (Fig. 8). During these times, periods of increased swell are more frequent, and upwelling-favorable wind conditions are more infrequent and variable. Evidence of the Coriolis–Stokes return flow during winter months suggests that wave-driven flows contribute significantly to cross-shelf exchange in and around the Monterey Bay region, but are either masked by the strong diurnal wind responses or are minimal due to predominant wave direction during the upwelling season (Figs. 6 and 7). Previous studies in the region of northern Monterey Bay found similar results during the upwelling season with no evidence of a sheared return flow (e.g., Rosman et al. 2007).

Fig. 8.
Fig. 8.

Mean cross-shelf velocity profiles at SHB during low along-shelf wind conditions (|τWy| > 0.03 N m−2; October–March) for periods of low (Hsig < 0.75 m), middle (0.75 < Hsig < 2 m), and high (Hsig > 2 m) swell. Dashed lines are the theoretical wave-driven return flow profile computed from (7) for Hsig = 1.5 and 2.5 m, the mean values of Hsig for the respective bins.

Citation: Journal of Physical Oceanography 43, 8; 10.1175/JPO-D-11-0185.1

e. EOF analysis of complex velocity

The first two modes of the real part (cross shelf) of the EOF accounted for >86% of the variability in the cross-shelf velocity for both SHB and TPT (Figs. 9a,b). The first mode of the EOF for the cross-shelf flow had the same characteristic shape as the correlation analysis with along-shelf wind stress for SHB (Fig. 9a), was significantly coherent (γ ≃ 0.78 for upper and lower layers) with the local diurnal wind signal using coherence spectral analysis, and accounted for >65% of the variance in the cross-shelf exchange. The second mode at SHB was the barotropic tidal signal and was significantly coherent (γ ≃ 0.63) with K1 and M2 tides. However, at TPT (Fig. 9b), the first mode was coherent with the barotropic tidal signal (γ ≃ 0.72), and the second mode (first baroclinic mode) was coherent (γ ≃ 0.54) with the local diurnal winds. The third mode at these northern bay sites appears related to internal wave activity given the broad spectral peak across the 10–30-min period evident in the power spectrum of the PC loading time series. This mode accounts for ~7% of the total variance in the cross-shelf flow.

Fig. 9.
Fig. 9.

Cross-shelf (real) component of the EOFs of the complex velocity for (a) SHB, (b) TPT, and (c) HMS showing variance explained.

Citation: Journal of Physical Oceanography 43, 8; 10.1175/JPO-D-11-0185.1

In the southern bay, the first three modes of the real part of the EOF account for more than 77% of the cross-shelf exchange (Fig. 9c). The first mode (~52% of the variance) of the EOF is strongly bottom enhanced and is coherent with the tides (γ ≃ 0.73). The second mode accounts for ~20% of the variance and appears to be representative of warm front relaxation and associated high-frequency internal waves that are not resolved in these long-term observations (Walter et al. 2012).

4. Influence of background vorticity

Lentz (1994) showed a linear relationship between Us and of the form y = Cx + d, where C [(9) and (10)] is defined as the fraction of full Ekman transport and d is dependent on local conditions such as depth and bathymetric variability. The SHB and TPT sites follow the reduced Ekman transport model proposed by Lentz (1994) with C = 0.42 at TPT (0.39 at SHB) with respect to full theoretical values (Fig. 10a, gray circles) when comparing theoretical to observed transport as a result of local winds. These values are lower than those estimated by Suanda et al. (2011) likely because of the longer record used in this analysis, but they agree well with the estimates from the correlation analysis (Fig. 4). Lentz (1994) proposed four potential causes for the reduced Ekman transport in shallow depths: 1) the surface Ekman layer cannot fully develop (δsH), 2) surface and bottom Ekman layers overlap (δs + δbH), 3) when the interior stress computed at z = −δs is comparable to the surface or bottom stress [e.g., when the bulk Richardson number, Ri = −(gdρ/dz)2/(du/dz)2, is low], or 4) nonlinear terms in the along-shelf momentum equation are important.

Fig. 10.
Fig. 10.

Observed (local wind) vs theoretical mass transport binned by wind stress from classical Ekman theory at (a) TPT, (b) surface and bottom Ekman depths, and (c) correlation results (correlation and regression coefficients) for local winds including νx. In (a), cross-shelf transport is computed as (gray circles, dashed gray line), and with adjustment for large-scale vorticity as (black circles, dashed black line). Solid black line in (a) shows 1:1 fit of observed data to theoretical estimates. Mean error estimates (std dev) from binned values are shown next to reported statistics. In (b), δs and δb computed as the depth of or u(Nf)−1/2, respectively. Mean (circle), first (bars) and second (tails) std dev shown. In (c), significant correlations are filled circles.

Citation: Journal of Physical Oceanography 43, 8; 10.1175/JPO-D-11-0185.1

In the presence of stratification, the depth of the Ekman layer scales as δs ~ u(Nf)−1/2 (Ralph and Niiler 1999). This formulation is used to estimate the thickness of the bottom Ekman layer where the stratification is approximately linear. The surface Ekman layer is taken as the depth of the thermocline or as as computed above, whichever is deeper. The two estimates of δs, from scaling theory (Ralph and Niiler 1999) and , were within 1 m of each other for all cases. Although not the focus here, this is an interesting observation given that the above equation is a scaling and not an equality. The surface and bottom Ekman layer thicknesses, estimated from the thermocline depth using the scaling given above respectively, rarely overlap due to the strong near-surface thermocline (Fig. 10b). Estimates of vertical shear in the horizontal velocity and density stratification between surface and bottom suggest RiB ≳ 100 within the stratified region of the inner shelf. These observations rule out the first three mechanisms for reduced transport proposed by Lentz (1994), and leaves only the nonlinear advection terms in the along-shelf momentum balance as a mechanism for the observed reduction in Ekman transport.

a. Along-shelf momentum balance

The objective of this section is to provide an order of magnitude, first-order analysis of the along-shelf momentum balance, in particular the nonlinear advection terms. Many of these terms are difficult to accurately estimate from field observations; however, to leading order, such estimates can provide insights into the dynamics of inner-shelf circulation and Ekman transport. Separating the pressure gradient into barotropic and baroclinic components and integrating, (4) becomes
e11
Each of the terms in the along-shelf momentum balance was then estimated using a combination of ADCP, HF radar, and local wind data for each site. Moving from left to right, the unsteady, or local acceleration term υt, was computed as the centered difference of the hourly ADCP currents following Lentz (2001). The horizontal, nonlinear convective acceleration terms (x, υυy) were estimated from HF radar combined with ADCP velocities. Cross-shelf horizontal shear υx was estimated as the difference between the velocity averaged over the surface layer from the ADCP and several nearby HF radar nodes (Fig. 11) obtained from the Central and Northern California Ocean Observing System (CeNCOOS; Paduan and Cook 1997), as
e12
where L is defined as the distance between the mooring location and the centered location of the HF radar measurement window (Fig. 11). Horizontal velocities were then averaged over the depth of the surface layer to remove noise in near surface bins. Although HF radar only provides surface velocities, it does give a reasonable estimate over the depth of the surface layer during low wind conditions (5–8 m deep; Fig. 12, left panel). Here, υx was computed between the ADCP and HF radar because diurnal winds tended to contaminate the HF radar during high wind conditions (Fig. 12, right panel). Contamination of current data during high winds is not a significant issue for offshore HF radar in the region because currents predominantly travel in the direction of the wind (Paduan and Cook 1997). Averaging over the surface layer had less than a 3% effect on calculations of the convective acceleration terms because along-shelf vertical velocity shear υz was minimal over this depth (Fig. 5). Here, υy was estimated from adjacent along-shelf HF radar locations during low wind conditions only and compared with estimates from ADCP data using a Taylor advection scheme (y = υt). Both methods yielded quantitatively similar results. The vertical convective acceleration term z was estimated from ADCP-computed vertical shear and low-pass-filtered (2-h cutoff) isotherm displacements computed from each mooring to remove high-frequency motions associated with internal waves. The Coriolis term is computed using Us from the cross-shelf transport estimate described above and taking f = 0.875 × 10−4 s−1.
Fig. 11.
Fig. 11.

Map of (top left) northern and (bottom right) southern regions of Monterey Bay showing locations moorings (open circles), HF radar nodes (dots), and mean location (stars) of HF radar nodes (larger dots) used in vorticity computation. Here, L is the distance used in computation of υx.

Citation: Journal of Physical Oceanography 43, 8; 10.1175/JPO-D-11-0185.1

Fig. 12.
Fig. 12.

Comparison of ADCP and HF radar-derived along-shelf velocities from (left) TPT and (right) comparable estimates of υx for high and low wind conditions.

Citation: Journal of Physical Oceanography 43, 8; 10.1175/JPO-D-11-0185.1

For the pressure gradient terms, the surface displacement ηy is assumed to be much less than the depth of the surface layer (ηyδs). Because all other terms in the balance can be estimated, the barotropic alongshore pressure gradient was assumed to be the residual of the sum of all other terms. Results of Brink (1997) for a bottom boundary layer, where the along-shelf pressure gradient was allowed to develop, illustrate that this term may not significantly affect Ekman transport in the presence of horizontal shear or at short time scales (diurnal) relative to large-scale adjustments in circulation (from days to weeks). The local baroclinic pressure gradient was estimated from the difference in the mean water column density (constant salinity = 33.5) between SHB and TPT. The wind stress term was calculated from the local wind data using Large and Pond (1981) as described in section 2. Finally, the interfacial stress at the base of the surface layer should be small given that the stress divergence in the stratified interior at the base the surface boundary layer should also be small. Canonical day estimates of the along-shelf momentum were computed by centering the peak wind and averaging from −15 to +9 h before and after. The along-shelf momentum balance analyses were also performed for both the bottom layer and the full water column.

The along-shelf and vertical advection terms (υυy, z) are several orders of magnitude smaller than the cross-shelf advection, Coriolis, and wind stress terms (x, fUs, and τw/ρo) in the surface layer. The pressure gradient terms are not small and play important roles in the momentum balance as will be shown later. For now, I assume they are small relative to the leading terms. The remaining terms are decomposed into multiple components (e.g., ) based on the temporal scale of variability. The components are defined as low-frequency or subtidal (usubt, >28-h period), diurnal (, 20–28-h period), and high-frequency (u′, <20-h period) variability, respectively. Comparison of the components in the cross-shelf advection term x suggests that the terms involving the cross-shelf subtidal velocity are not important because as estimated from the ADCP record . In the diurnal band (20–28 h), υx ranges from a minimum when diurnal winds are strong, which acts to slow the nearshore poleward current to a maximum equal to when diurnal winds are weak and there is no modification to the poleward current. Therefore, it is assumed that . Through depth integration and substituting in (3), x can then be replaced with Usυx. Consequently, the decomposed along-shelf momentum balance then becomes
e13
Large-scale vorticity acts on a fluid in the form of a Coriolis parameter of the form f + ζ, where ζ is the vorticity through the upper water column. This condition arises when the nonlinear advection terms are of the same magnitude as the Coriolis parameter. In coastal regions, water mass interfaces (e.g., fronts) are associated with along-shelf (along front) flows that can be in opposing directions leading to underresolved estimates of the cross-shelf advection of momentum while other terms remain small. The vorticity in this case can be of comparable magnitude to f at midlatitudes. From (13), the classical Ekman transport equation becomes (Stern 1965; Niiler 1969; Brink 1987; Thomas and Lee 2005; Thomas and Ferrari 2008)
e14

b. Vorticity and diurnal upwelling

During periods of active regional upwelling, the upwelling jet that originates at Point Año Nuevo and the poleward return flow within the bay lead to positive vorticity that can be on the order of f (Fig. 13). This vorticity contributes to the along-shelf momentum balance (Fig. 14) and modifies the effective Coriolis parameter. This improves the fit between local winds and theoretical the Ekman transport (Fig. 10a, black circles). The addition of the vorticity term improves the fit and brings the regression slope to approximately 1 (a = 0.96 ± 0.008) suggesting agreement between observations and theory. Temporal evolution of the dominant terms in the momentum balance therefore suggests that the wind stress is largely balanced by starting around peak wind (Fig. 14a). Accounting for the additional vorticity in the system also increases the correlation between wind stress and cross-shelf velocity such that the integral of the regression coefficients is also approximately 1 (a = 1.03 ± 0.06; Fig. 10c).

Fig. 13.
Fig. 13.

Time series of (top) 40-h low-pass-filtered regional along-shelf wind stress τWy from NDBC 46042 and (bottom) vorticity ζ computed over northern bay from high-frequency radar and depth-averaged along-shelf 40-h low-pass-filtered ADCP. Coriolis parameter f shown in bottom panel (dashed gray line). Shaded regions indicate relaxation periods.

Citation: Journal of Physical Oceanography 43, 8; 10.1175/JPO-D-11-0185.1

Fig. 14.
Fig. 14.

Canonical day estimates of along-shelf momentum balance terms for (a) surface layer, (b) bottom layer, and (c) total, along with (d) momentum balance residual for TPT (−gHηy) during the upwelling season. The yδs and zδs are not shown because of low values. Shaded bounds are 95% confidence intervals. Shaded region at top shows period of northward front propagation typically crossing mooring location.

Citation: Journal of Physical Oceanography 43, 8; 10.1175/JPO-D-11-0185.1

The residual of the along-shelf momentum balance between the surface and bottom layers is not significantly different. It should be noted that the residual in the bottom layer is of the same magnitude as the leading terms, a condition that lends some uncertainty to the estimates of the bottom layer momentum balance. However, for the following discussion, the estimates of the terms in the bottom layer momentum balance are considered reasonable because the residual is comparable to the surface layer residual. The residuals in the surface and bottom momentum suggest a mean barotropic pressure gradient (only remaining term not resolved) of about −5 × 10−5 m2 s−2 that builds with the diurnal wind forcing and drops to near zero during the frontal crossing period (Fig. 14b). During periods of weak winds, it appears that the local acceleration and pressure gradient terms are roughly in balance. During the frontal passage period (shaded region at top of figure), the balance appears to close, which is due either to the baroclinic pressure gradient being under resolved using the methods here or the along-shelf pressure gradient being negligible after front passage (e.g., Woodson et al. 2009). A larger baroclinic term near the front would bring the barotropic term closer to the overall mean because the two terms are opposing in this region (positive baroclinic pressure gradient, negative barotropic pressure gradient). In the integration of the along-shelf momentum in the bottom layer (Fig. 14d), the onshore return flow appears to be balanced by a combination of the barotropic pressure gradient and the bottom stress. Integrating the components of the along-shelf momentum over the entire water column yields a balance between the wind stress and the along-shelf pressure gradients (barotropic and baroclinic).

The vorticity has important implications for the temporal and spatial scales of Ekman dynamics. Spinup of Ekman transport to a steady balance between wind stress and the Coriolis force scales as 1/f as derived from the unsteady Ekman problem. Using this scaling for northern Monterey Bay, the inertial period (2π/f) is 19.94 h and therefore, an Ekman spinup of approximately 3.2 h. However, Ekman spinup will also be influenced by the vorticity in the flow, which changes the scaling to 1/(f + ζ). Adjusting for the vorticity yields Ekman spin up periods on the order of 1.5 h consistent with previous observations of spinup as a result of diurnal winds (Woodson et al. 2007). A total spinup (-down) of less than 6 h is well within the inertial and diurnal periods allowing this diurnal upwelling process to operate with minimal feedback. The canonical balance in these terms over the diurnal cycle supports this scaling (Fig. 14). The added vorticity therefore makes the approximation of the steady balance for the diurnal wind a reasonable assumption for this region during active upwelling and minimizes the potential for resonant effects.

The southern bay site (HMS) has similar stratification during upwelling months, but it does not exhibit a strong diurnal Ekman (downwelling in the case of HMS) signal (Fig. 2). This may be because of the lack of a large-scale background vorticity in the southern bay. These observations suggest that either 1) the vorticity in the northern bay allows for Ekman transport, but not in the southern bay, 2) diurnal wind forcing leads to different inner-shelf dynamics, or 3) other dynamics are larger contributors to cross-shelf exchange in the southern bay.

5. Discussion

Cross-shelf exchange along the central coast of California is observed to be largely due to along-shelf winds with surface gravity waves playing important episodic roles especially during winter months. During the upwelling season, strong diurnal sea breezes along northern Monterey Bay lead to cross-shelf Ekman transport. In the southwestern portion of Monterey Bay, a weak net offshore transport is consistent throughout the year and is believed to be caused by internal borelike features or the local interaction of tides with nearshore stratification (Walter et al. 2012). Cross-shelf winds and surface waves also provide significant contributions in the southeastern quadrant of the bay (Hendrickson and MacMahan 2009).

Large-scale vorticity and intense stratification over the northern bay provides a constraint on the transport and spinup of Ekman circulation. The interplay of the large-scale vorticity imposed by the Año Nuevo upwelling jet and the diurnal sea breeze allows full theoretical Ekman transport to occur very close to the coast effectively eliminating the inner shelf from this region during the upwelling season. The surface vorticity estimates may be influenced by the coarse scale of the high-frequency radar estimates (Paduan and Cook 1997) relative to the true flow patterns. The grid scale in northern Monterey Bay is on the order of 2 km, yet observations of current shear across the upwelling front suggest a full transition of less than 1 km (Woodson et al. 2009). Additionally, I have assumed that the surface currents mapped by the high-frequency radar extend to the depth of the ADCP measurements. Although vertical shear in the nearshore poleward flow may also affect the Ekman balance (Fig. 5), the vertical shear is minimal over the depth of the surface Ekman layer. Refined estimates of the surface vorticity from cross-shelf ADCP deployments would help resolve the vorticity in the region and more accurately constrain the Ekman transport model. However, the agreement with theory (Fig. 10) suggests that the important physics is captured by this leading-order estimate of the vorticity. These results lead to interesting dynamic considerations about how the surface vorticity in the presence of a coastal barrier may influence the stability and generation of nearshore fronts as has been observed and modeled in the open ocean (Thomas and Lee 2005; Thomas and Ferrari 2008).

Another factor in the dynamics of the inner shelf of northern Monterey Bay is the presence of strong positive wind stress curl (Wang et al. 2011). During periods of strong regional upwelling, a persistent gradient in wind stress develops along the outer edge of the bay near SHB. The wind stress curl likely has important effects in the development and persistence of the upwelling front, but does not appear to affect the inner-shelf dynamics within the upwelling shadow extensively. However, further study is needed to evaluate the contribution of the wind stress curl to inner-shelf dynamics in this region.

Surface wave–driven flows appear to be the dominant mechanism of cross-shelf exchange during periods of weak and variable upwelling (October–March). During these periods, the inner shelf is typically not stratified, and large swells are more frequent because of winter storms in the northern Pacific. The 5-yr current records used in this study were sufficiently long to reasonably resolve the return flow velocity profile in this region supporting the assertion that longer records are capable of addressing wave-driven circulation along the eastern Pacific (Kirincich et al. 2009). Consistent with previous studies in the region, we found little or no evidence for a wave-driven return flow during the upwelling season (Rosman et al. 2007).

No evidence for wave-driven return flow was seen in southern Monterey Bay likely because of the unique geometry of the mooring location. The presence of a headland (Point Piños) may allow development of a large radiation stress gradient during large swell conditions that drives a strong along-shelf flow (e.g., Lentz et al. 1999) and may also contribute to cross-shelf exchange. Internal tidal bores and surface tide interactions with nearshore stratification also appear to be significant contributors to cross-shelf exchange in this region (Walter et al. 2012). Both of these phenomena however could not be addressed with the data used in this study. Consequently, a more thorough examination of the effects of wave-driven circulation and internal dynamics in the southern portion of the bay is warranted.

6. Summary and conclusions

Cross-shelf exchange across the inner shelf along the central California coast exhibits considerable variability that is most closely aligned with the seasonal upwelling cycle of the region and coastline orientation. During the spring/summer upwelling season, cross-shelf exchange in the northern bay is dominated by Ekman transport caused by strong diurnal, along-shelf winds. The presence of positive vorticity across the northern bay constrains the Ekman spinup to period much less than the inertial period for the region. This constraint allows for a dynamic diurnal upwelling circulation to occur. This dynamic condition also suggests that the inner shelf, as defined in Fewings et al. (2008) and Lentz and Fewings (2012), rarely exists in the northern bay during active upwelling. In contrast, the existence of an inner shelf has been documented for the southeastern region of the Monterey Bay (Hendrickson and MacMahan 2009). In the southwestern part of the bay, cross-shelf exchange is largely attributed to internal tidal bores and surface tide interactions with nearshore stratification (Walter et al. 2012). During fall/winter months, surface wave–driven flows associated with storm events appear responsible for most of the observed cross-shelf exchange.

The prevalence of positive vorticity near coastal boundaries resulting from upwelling, tidal mixing fronts, and coastal boundary layers along with stratification on the inner shelf suggests that horizontal shear in along-shelf flows likely has important implications for cross-shelf exchange in coastal regions worldwide. Continued research on the effects of vorticity on upwelling and front dynamics in the coastal zone, and on the influence of interactions between surface tides and internal tidal bores with nearshore stratification on cross-shelf exchange is warranted to fully understand the dynamics of cross-shelf circulation on continental shelves.

Acknowledgments

The author would like to thank D. A. Fong, S. G. Monismith, J. A. Barth, and L. Washburn for comments and suggestions on earlier versions of this manuscript. The author is also thankful for the detailed comments of two anonymous reviewers that greatly improved the paper. The author was supported by the Center for Ocean Solutions (David and Lucille Packard Foundation) and NSF Awards 0824972 and 0926738 during this work.

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