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Free Content Wind-driven mixed layer and coastal upwelling processes off the south coast of South Africa

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Most coastal mixed layer and upwelling investigations have concentrated on the more important fisheries regions situated on the west coasts of the continents, while this paper analyzes conditions on the zonally-orientated south coast of South Africa. Most of the data originate from a short measurement program in the southern summer of 1995, involving both CTD measurements from a small boat and data from a temperature array and coastal sea surface temperature (SST).

Limited mixed layer statistics are derived and yield results similar to those of Lentz (1992), although a lack of current measurements precludes any assessment of the Ekman drift. It is shown that the nature of the summer wind forcing is very different to the situation off the South African west coast, with wind variability occurring on much shorter time scales from 2 to 6 days: this has important consequences for plankton blooms and is a likely reason why production is not as efficient off this coast. Past results (Tilney et al., 1996) have shown the importance of coastal trapped waves at depth, but it is apparent that very different conditions occur near the surface.

It is found that the coastal SST is a very good monitor of wind-forced coastal upwelling conditions, probably because of the abrupt topography. Substantial baroclinic tidal signals are also apparent at times in the temperature measurements.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 1999

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  • The Journal of Marine Research, one of the oldest journals in American marine science, 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. Biological studies involving coupling between ecological and physical processes are preferred over those that report systematics. The editors strive always to serve authors and readers in the academic oceanographic community by publishing papers vital to the marine research in the long and rich tradition of the Sears Foundation for Marine Research. We welcome you to the Journal of Marine Research.
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