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Publication Title

Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans








Continental shelf waters are particularly responsive to winter storm events mainly because of their shallow depths. Those of the southeastern United States (the South Atlantic Bight (SAB)) are especially responsive because they are broad and shallow. Also, the Gulf Stream serves as a continual source of warm water at the outer boundary. Thus the SAB receives strong meteorological (wind stress and heat loss) and oceanographic (advective) forcing. During the Genesis of Atlantic Lows Experiment (GALE) the response of shelf waters to winter storm events and Gulf Stream forcing was observed. The mean conditions showed a mixed water column with areas of stratification near the coast and at the shelf break. The nearshore area was stratified only during weak offshore winds, and the shelf break area was stratified during southward winds with accompanying onshore Ekman flow. On the inner shelf, advective buoyancy flux was similar in value to heat flux buoyancy and the buoyancy equivalent of wind mixing. Over the shelf break the advective buoyancy flux was 4 times the other forms of buoyancy flux and controlled the observed potential energy variability. A simple box model heat budget used to separate the effect of Gulf Stream eddies and meanders, and Ekman flow and air‐sea heat exchange on the shelf heat content showed that the observed heat content variability was caused by intrusion of Gulf Stream water. The intrusions may be caused either by onshore Ekman flow during southward winds or Gulf Stream meander events.


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© 1989 American Geophysical Union.

Original Publication Citation

Atkinson, L. P., Oka, E., Wu, S. Y., Berger, T. J., Blanton, J. O., & Lee, T. N. (1989). Hydrographic variability of southeastern United States shelf and slope waters during the genesis of Atlantic lows experiment: Winter 1986. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 94(C8), 10699-10713. doi:10.1029/JC094iC08p10699


0000-0003-2919-100X (Atkinson)

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