Sea Breeze Sensitivity to Coastal Upwelling and Synoptic Flow Using Lagrangian Methods

Greg Seroka, Erick Fredj, Joshua Kohut, Rich Dunk, Travis Miles, Scott Glenn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Sea breezes occur nearly daily in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic summer during high electricity demand periods, and thus have important implications for the burgeoning U.S. offshore wind energy industry. The sea breeze's offshore component is poorly understood and ill defined relative to its onshore counterpart. Here a new Lagrangian method not yet readily used to study the sea breeze, relative dispersion, was validated and applied to a validated Weather Research and Forecasting model in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic. This Lagrangian method is used to characterize the onshore convergent and offshore divergent sea breeze extents and intensities, and test their sensitivities to both atmospheric synoptic flow and oceanic coastal upwelling, another common summer season regional phenomenon. It was found that offshore-directed synoptic flow impacted the sea breeze onshore extent more than offshore extent, and that coastal upwelling did not significantly impact sea breeze onshore or offshore extent for these carefully selected case studies. Upwelling, however, produced an earlier sea breeze onset (~5 hr), and a shallower, sharper, and more intense offshore/onshore sea breeze during strong offshore synoptic flow, consistent with past studies. The offshore side of the sea breeze cell—with stronger intensity during upwelling—crossed the New Jersey Wind Energy Area at ~1900 UTC, regardless of synoptic wind or upwelling conditions. Results overall are consistent with dynamic linear sea breeze theory. Uncertain projected trends in coastal upwelling/sea breezes in a warming world highlight the importance of continued study of coastal air-sea interactions for improved offshore wind energy assessment and prediction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9443-9461
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Issue number17
StatePublished - Sep 16 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Forestry
  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology


  • Lagrangian methods
  • atmospheric modeling
  • coastal oceanography
  • coastal upwelling
  • offshore wind energy
  • sea breeze

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