The project is a comprehensive observational and analytical program to examine the dynamics and source waters of the relaxation flows in a coastal upwelling system on the central California coast. Autonomous vehicles, high-frequency radars, moorings, and drifters, will be used to acquire pressure, density, and velocity data relevant to the relaxation flows. The data will be used to determine spatial scales of the flows, cross-shore density structure, cross-shore and alongshore velocity fields, pressure gradients, and the region of contact with the sea floor. Aspects of the research include: 1) to evaluate the roles of barotropic and baroclinic pressure gradient forcing, 2) to identify regions where ageostrophic flows dominate the cross-shore and alongshore momentum balances, 3) to determine source waters for the relaxation flows, and 4) to examine the inner shelf circulation response to wind relaxations over an extensive coastal region (the northern part of the Southern California Bight) by analyzing extensive regional data sets collected over many years.Wind relaxations are common features of coastal upwelling systems worldwide, and have impacts on alongshore and cross-shore transport of water-borne materials such as larvae, nutrients, terrestrial runoff, and buoyant pollutants like oil. This study will clarify the role of relaxation flows in the recruitment of intertidal and sub-tidal organisms by revealing details of the near-shore flow structure. The observational plan advances capabilities of state-of-the-art autonomous and Lagrangian platforms and sensors. A post-doc and undergraduate students will be trained. Opportunities will be created for marine ecology graduate students to conduct field experiments focused on the ecological consequences of relaxation flows. This research will build on, and leverage, existing regional ocean observing infrastructure and it will increase the capacity for oceanographic studies at two universities.
|Effective start/end date||9/15/10 → 8/31/14|
- National Science Foundation (National Science Foundation (NSF))