A Comparison of Some Shallow Wind-Driven Currents

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  • 1 Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA 02093
  • | 2 Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA 02543
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Abstract

Four sets of current measurements made in water depths ranging between 28 and 38 m over periods ranging from three to five weeks are examined and compared. The response of the water column to wind forcing is examined by computing regression coefficients between the surface wind stress and two different parameterizations of bottom stress in terms of measured currents. Coefficients computed for the different data sets vary by as much as a factor of 4. While such variations might be due to instrumental differences, it seems more likely that the assumed dynamical balance between surface and bottom stress is incomplete, i.e., other forces such as the alongshore pressure gradient are quantitatively important even when the water depth is comparable to the turbulent Ekman layer thickness.

Abstract

Four sets of current measurements made in water depths ranging between 28 and 38 m over periods ranging from three to five weeks are examined and compared. The response of the water column to wind forcing is examined by computing regression coefficients between the surface wind stress and two different parameterizations of bottom stress in terms of measured currents. Coefficients computed for the different data sets vary by as much as a factor of 4. While such variations might be due to instrumental differences, it seems more likely that the assumed dynamical balance between surface and bottom stress is incomplete, i.e., other forces such as the alongshore pressure gradient are quantitatively important even when the water depth is comparable to the turbulent Ekman layer thickness.

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