The effect of alongcoast advection on pacific northwest shelf and slope water properties in relation to upwelling variability

Hally B. Stone, Neil S. Banas, Parker Maccready

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The Northern California Current System experiences highly variable seasonal upwelling in addition to larger basin-scale variability, both of which can significantly affect its water chemistry. Salinity and temperature fields from a 7 year ROMS hindcast model of this region (43°N-50°N), along with extensive particle tracking, were used to study interannual variability in water properties over both the upper slope and the midshelf bottom. Variation in slope water properties was an order of magnitude smaller than on the shelf. Furthermore, the primary relationship between temperature and salinity anomalies in midshelf bottom water consisted of variation in density (cold/salty versus warm/fresh), nearly orthogonal to the anomalies along density levels (cold/fresh versus warm/salty) observed on the upper slope. These midshelf anomalies were well-explained (R2=0.6) by the combination of interannual variability in local and remote alongshore wind stress, and depth of the California Undercurrent (CUC) core. Lagrangian analysis of upper slope and midshelf bottom water shows that both are affected simultaneously by large-scale alongcoast advection of water through the northern and southern boundaries. The amplitude of anomalies in bottom oxygen and dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) on the shelf associated with upwelling variability are larger than those associated with typical variation in alongcoast advection, and are comparable to observed anomalies in this region. However, a large northern intrusion event in 2004 illustrates that particular, large-scale alongcoast advection anomalies can be just as effective as upwelling variability in changing shelf water properties on the interannual scale.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
Early online date15 Jan 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Jan 2018


  • advection
  • California undercurrent
  • ROMS modeling
  • shelf and slope dynamics
  • upwelling


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