West Florida Shelf Circulation and Temperature Budget for the 1998 Fall Transition

Document Type


Publication Date



circulation modeling, observations, temperature budget, west florida shelf

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)



Mid-latitude continental shelves undergo a fall transition as the net heat flux changes from warming to cooling. Using in situ data and a numerical model we investigate the circulation on the west Florida shelf (WFS) for the fall transition of 1998. The model is a regional adaptation of the primitive equation, Princeton Ocean Model forced by NCEP reanalysis wind, air pressure, and heat flux fields, plus river inflows. After comparison with observations the model is used to draw inferences on the seasonal and synoptic scale features of the shelf circulation. By running twin experiments, one without and the other with an idealized Loop Current (LC), we explore the relative importance of local versus deep-ocean forcing. We find that local forcing largely controls the inner-shelf circulation, including changes from the Florida Panhandle in the north to regions farther south. The effects of the LC in fall 1998 are to reinforce the mid-shelf currents and to increase the across-shelf transports in the bottom Ekman layer, thereby accentuating the shoreward transport of cold, nutrient rich water of deep-ocean origin. A three-dimensional analysis of the temperature budget reveals that surface heat flux largely controls both the seasonal and synoptic scale temperature variations. Surface cooling leads to convective mixing that rapidly alters temperature gradients. One interesting consequence is that upwelling can result in near-shore warming as warmer offshore waters are advected landward. The temperature balances on the shelf are complex and fully three-dimensional.

Was this content written or created while at USF?


Citation / Publisher Attribution

Continental Shelf Research, v. 23, issue 8, p. 777-800