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Free Content On the coastal-upwelling overturning cell

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The overturning cell driven by alongshore wind and coastal upwelling off central California is examined using direct observations from four underwater gliders equipped with Acoustic Doppler Profilers. These show the onshore flow that compensates for offshore Ekman transport during the month of August 2006 to occur primarily just below the Ekman Layer so that the net offshore heat transport, and by inference the net vertical transport of nutrients, is much less than if this compensating flow occurred throughout the water column. Correlation of cross-shelf flow and wind stress is used to infer the profile of Ekman transport while glider-measured alongshore gradients of density determine the geostrophic cross-shelf flow, which is strongly surface-intensified. The sum of Ekman and geostrophic flows approximates the independently and directly measured cross-shelf flow profile. This underscores the importance of the alongshore pressure gradient in the overturning circulation and makes understanding it a high priority.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2010

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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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