Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date




Publication Title

Baroclinic Processes on Continental Shelves. Editor: Christopher N. K. Mooers. Publisher: American Geophysical Union


Chapter 7




Processes that affect stratification in the South Atlantic Bight can be divided into those that create it and those that destroy it. Stratification is created by surface heating, freshwater runoff, and rain and is destroyed by evaporation, cooling, and surface and bottom stresses. We show that freshwater runoff is the primary source of buoyancy that creates stratification in the inner and middle shelf near rivers. Heating is equally important over all of the shelf. Up to 20 mW m-2 of mixing power may be required to destroy runoff-related stratification. Wind stress can exert a maximum of about 3 mW m-2. Another process that creates and destroys stratification is the advection of buoyancy, a term usually neglected. We show that variations in stratification caused by advective flux of buoyancy often dominate all other processes. The power required to destroy advectively created stratification may reach 3 mW m-2.


Published by the American Geophysical Union as part of the Coastal and Estuarine Sciences, Volume 3.

Original Publication Citation

Atkinson, L. P., & Blanton, J. O. (2013). Processes that affect stratification in shelf waters. In Baroclinic processes on Continental Shelves (pp. 117-130): American Geophysical Union.