"Upwelling" and "cyclonic" regimes of the near-surface circulation in the Santa Barbara Channel

Lie Yauw Oey, Dong Ping Wang, Thomas Hayward, Clinton Winant, Myrl Hendershott

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The observed near-surface circulation in the Santa Barbara Channel indicates in particular two patterns: a dominant cyclonic circulation mode and a less frequent upwelling flow mode. To explain the dynamics that may govern these two flow regimes, momentum balance from a hindcast model of currents in the channel, forced by observed hourly winds and hydrographic data, was calculated. The along-channel balance was found to be between wind, which was eastward (i.e., equatorward), sea level tilt, which was westward (i.e., poleward), and Coriolis, which was westward if the wind was (1) intense west and east of the channel and was eastward if the wind was (2) weaker in the east. Wind condition 1 produced southward cross-channel flow in the midchannel, connected by eastward currents upstream (downstream) along the northern (southern) coast of the channel, while wind condition 2 produced northward cross-channel flow connected by cyclonic recirculation in the west and westward inflow in the east. It is suggested that the former corresponds to the dynamical balance that may occur in the upwelling flow mode, while the latter corresponds to the cyclonic circulation mode.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1999JC000129
Pages (from-to)9213-9222
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
Issue numberC5
StatePublished - 15 May 2001


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