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Free Content Synoptic Lagrangian maps: Application to surface transport in Monterey Bay

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Here we report on an effort to describe in detail the evolution of surface water particles in Monterey Bay from the time they first enter until the time they leave. The data used for this study are objective mappings from hourly surface currents obtained from high frequency (HF) radar measurements in Monterey Bay for the period 2 June through 4 August 1999. The basic concept is simple: compute the origin and fate of a large number of particles for every hour during the analysis period. However, analyzing and displaying the enormous amount of computed trajectory information required a new data compression technique: synoptic Lagrangian maps produced by representing each trajectory by its origin/fate and its residence time. The results show unexpected complexity and variability not apparent in the Eulerian current archive. For example, the fraction of particles that escaped to the open ocean during this period varied from about 17 to more than 92 percent. Mean particle residence times ranged from 4.5 to 11 days. The distribution of particle residence times and transport pathways varied over time scales from hours to weeks, and space scales from 2 to 40 km. The wide range of variability in particle properties reported here shows that surface transport studies in Monterey Bay require detailed wind and tidal current information over the entire bay, as well as information about the flow along the open ocean boundary.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 March 2006

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  • The Journal of Marine Research publishes peer-reviewed research articles covering a broad array of topics in physical, biological and chemical oceanography. Articles that deal with processes, as well as those that report significant observations, are welcome. In the area of biology, studies involving coupling between ecological and physical processes are preferred over those that report systematics. Authors benefit from thorough reviews of their manuscripts, where an attempt is made to maximize clarity. The time between submission and publication is kept to a minimum; there is no page charge.
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