Marine Science Faculty Publications

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upwelling, Gulf Stream intrusions, South Atlantic Bight

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Unusually cold seawater temperatures were observed along much of the U.S. eastern seaboard during the summer of 2003. In this study, hydrographic and atmospheric observations from spring through summer were analyzed to track the evolution of the cold water event in the South Atlantic Bight (SAB) and investigate links to various forcing mechanisms. The hydrographic observations included 13 cross‐shelf transects over the central region of the SAB, surface temperature time series from several NDBC stations, and bottom temperatures from a mid shelf mooring. Atmospheric data were obtained from NDBC stations. Additional data included water level from NOS stations and river discharge from USGS stations. The conditions observed during spring and summer of 2003 were compared with climatological values. Record precipitation and increased river discharge during spring produced strong salinity stratification over the inner and mid shelf. Anomalously intense and persistent upwelling‐favorable winds were present from May until August. On the mid and outer shelf the resulting upwelling and subsurface shoreward penetration of cold water acted as a feedback mechanism to preserve the stratified conditions through the summer. The characteristics of the upwelled water corresponded to water from the lower part of the Gulf Stream water column. On the shelf the resulting temperature values under the thermocline were significantly lower than climatological temperatures by 5°–7°C.

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Journal of Geophysical Research - Oceans, v. 111, issue C6, art. C06007

Copyright 2006 by the American Geophysical Union.