Document Type


Publication Date




Publication Title

Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans






3205 (18 pp.)


[1] Cross-isobath flow on continental shelves is of interest for a variety of reasons. Near Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, the transport of larval organisms, pollutants, and oceanic carbon budget constituents to and from the adjacent Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds may depend critically on cross-isobath currents. Shoreward currents in the near-surface waters south of Cape Hatteras are documented herein, on the basis of continuous 2-year time series, encompassing all or part of three consecutive winters. Energetic shoreward currents exist similar to30% of the time from midfall through late spring. These currents are evident over the 20 and 35 m isobaths along a mooring line situated similar to40 km southwestward from Cape Hatteras. Shoreward velocities average similar to12 cm/s, and events persist from 0.5 to 4 days, occurring every 2.5-5 days, except in summer. These events often coincide with southwestward winds but occur under both upwelling and downwelling favorable conditions, such that Ekman veering in the surface layer does not account for the shoreward velocities. In winter the mooring line south of Cape Hatteras is frequently traversed by a strong temperature and salinity front, with light, relatively fresh, cold, stratified water on one side, and denser, more saline, warmer, unstratified water on the other. Hydrography and satellite sea surface temperature imagery help identify this front as the boundary between South Atlantic Bight and Mid-Atlantic Bight coastal shelf waters, the "Hatteras Front.'' Flow along the Hatteras Front where it crosses the shelf appears to account for the observed shoreward currents. The along-shelf advection of the Hatteras Front may depend on both winds and Gulf Stream distance offshore.


Web of Science: "Free full-text from publisher -- gold open access."

Copyright 2002 by the American Geophysical Union.

Original Publication Citation

Savidge, D. K. (2002). Wintertime shoreward near-surface currents south of Cape Hatteras. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 107(C11), 3205. doi:10.1029/2001jc001193

Included in

Oceanography Commons


Article Location