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High SST Variability South of Martha's Vineyard: Observation and Modeling Study

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High, small-scale SST variability 6 deg C over 5-10 km observed South of Marthas Vineyard during the low wind component of the Coupled Boundary Layers Air-Sea Transfer CBLAST-Low oceanographic field program in August 2003 is investigated using the Navy Coastal Ocean Model NCOM, with atmospheric forcing provided by the Coupled OceanAtmosphere Mesoscale Prediction System COAMPSRegistered. 1 The ocean model includes tidal boundary forcing by the eight major tidal constituents, which is superimposed on the non-tidal lateral boundary conditions obtained from the 18 deg global NCOM real-time hindcast. The simulation is conducted with a high-resolution, 200-m grid, with bathymetry from the NGDC 3-arc-second Coastal Relief Model. The COAMPS fields, tidal forcing and NCOM results are evaluated with the CBLAST-Low observations and previous results. Both the simulation and observation analyses reveal that SST variability south of Marthas Vineyard is significant on August 18 and 25 and is strongly related to the cooling events on August 17 to 18 and August 24 to 25. The northeast winds passing through Muskeget Channel generate sharp horizontal SST gradients on August 18 by accelerating the westward transport of cold water from the cold, tidally-mixed Nantucket Shoals and by wind-induced upwelling and surface-cooling-induced vertical mixing. The mechanism of SST change on August 25 is differentiated from the change on August 18 by the northwest winds being unfavorable to the westward transport of cold water. The SST cooling on August 25 is mainly caused by local vertical mixing induced by heat lost.

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  • Physical and Dynamic Oceanography
  • Fluid Mechanics

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