Drifter behavior on the Oregon-Washington Shelf during downwelling-favorable winds

Jay A. Austin, John A. Barth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Drifters released offshore of Oregon during predominantly downwelling favorable alongshore winds during three different deployments (October 1994, January 1998, and September 1998) display similar behavior: after being advected around in the offshore eddy field, they move onshore to a particular isobath and are advected poleward alongshore, without coming ashore. Numerical modeling results suggest that this may be due to downwelling circulation creating a marginally stable density gradient on the shelf inshore of the downwelling front, thereby increasing the vertical eddy diffusivity, which reduces the effective cross-shelf Ekman transport to nearly zero. The downwelling front itself is accompanied by a poleward jet, which carries drifters rapidly to the north. This behavior is consistent with previous modeling results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3132-3144
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Physical Oceanography
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2002
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Drifter behavior on the Oregon-Washington Shelf during downwelling-favorable winds'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this