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Circulation over coastal submarine canyons driven by constant upwelling or downwelling wind stress is simulated and analyzed with a primitive equation ocean model. Astoria Canyon, on the west coast of North America, is the focus of this study, and model results are consistent with most major features of mean canyon circulation observed in Astoria Canyon. Near-surface flow crosses over the canyon, while a closed cyclone occurs within the canyon. Upwelling prevails within the canyon and is larger than wind-driven upwelling along the adjacent shelf break. Water rises from depths reaching 300 m to the canyon rim and, subsequently, onto the adjacent shelf. Onshore flow within the canyon is driven by the onshore pressure gradient force, due to the free surface slope created by the upwelling wind, and is enhanced by the limitation to alongshore flow by the canyon topography. Density gradients largely compensate the surface slope with realistic stratification, but continual upwelling persists near the edges of the canyon. Within the upper canyon (50-150 m below the canyon rim) a cyclone is created by flow turning into the canyon mouth, separating from the upstream edge, and advecting toward the downstream rim. Below this layer the cyclone is created by vortex stretching due to the upwelling. Downwelling winds create nearly the opposite flow, in which compression and momentum advection create a strong anticyclone within the canyon. Momentum advection is found to be important both in creating strong circulation within the canyon and in allowing the surface flow to cross the canyon undisturbed. Model results indicate that Astoria-like submarine canyons produce across shore transport of sufficient volume to flush a continental shelf in a few (2-5) years.

Original Publication Citation

She, J., & Klinck, J.M. (2000). Flow near submarine canyons driven by constant winds. Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans, 105(C12), 28671-28694. doi: 10.1029/2000jc900126