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Langmuir supercells on the middle shelf of the South Atlantic Bight: 1. Cell structure

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Langmuir circulation cells extending through entire water columns exert a profound influence on sediment transport on shallow shelves, hence their designation as "Langmuir Supercells" (LSs) upon discovery in 2004 in water of 15 m depth at the Long-Term Ecosystem Observatory (LEO) off New Jersey (United States). Until now, similar high-frequency, full water column measurements of turbulent velocities and density fields have not been reported from significantly deeper continental shelf environments. Such deeper measurements are needed to determine whether LSs exist to influence sediment transport outside the inner shelf. In this article, that deficiency is addressed, using measurements from a midshelf location in the South Atlantic Bight. These data indicate that LSs form during high wind and wave forcing in water of 26 m depth and are thus capable of affecting sediment transport over more than about half of the area of this wide, shallow shelf. Relative to those at LEO, the LSs reported here are less organized and more temporally variable despite similar magnitude forcing. Possible causes of cell weakness and variability are considered.
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Keywords: LANGMUIR SUPERCELLS; SEDIMENT TRANSPORT PROCESSES; SHELF CIRCULATION

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2017

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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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