Variation in the position of the upwelling front on the Oregon shelf

Jay A. Austin, John A. Barth

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As part of an experiment to study wind-driven coastal circulation, 17 hydrographic surveys of the middle to inner shelf region off the coast of Newport, OR (44.65°N, from roughly the 90 m isobath to the 10 m isobath) were performed during Summer 1999 with a small, towed, undulating vehicle. The cross-shelf survey data were combined with data from several other surveys at the same latitude to study the relationship between upwelling intensity and wind stress field. A measure of upwelling intensity based on the position of the permanent pycnocline is developed. This measure is designed so as to be insensitive to density-modifying surface processes such as heating, cooling, buoyancy plumes, and wind mixing. It is highly correlated with an upwelling index formed by taking an exponentially weighted running mean of the alongshore wind stress. This analysis suggests that the front relaxes to a dynamic (geostrophic) equilibrium on a timescale of roughly 8 days, consistent with a similar analysis of moored hydrographic observations. This relationship allows the amount of time the pycnocline is outcropped to be estimated and could be used with historical wind records to better quantify interannual cycles in upwelling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-1 - 1-15
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 15 2002


  • Coastal circulation
  • Fronts
  • Oregon coast
  • Relaxation
  • Upwelling


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