Effects of thermohaline gradients and the Columbia River Plume on the California Current System
Schenk, Frank M.
Batteen, Mary L.
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To study the combined effects of thermohaline gradients and the Columbia River plume on the ocean circulation of the California Current System (CCS), results from three numerical experiments of increasing complexity are examined. In all three experiments, seasonal climatological winds are used to force the model. In the first experiment, the effects of seasonal thermohaline gradients along the western boundary are evaluated. In the second experiment, the additional effects of thermohaline gradients along the northern and southern boundaries are investigated, while in the third experiment, the effect of the Columbia River plume on the CCS is explored. The results from the first two experiments show that thermohaline gradients associated with the North Pacific Central, Pacific sub-Arctic, and Southern waters help to maintain more realistic temperatures and salinities in the CCS, particularly in the coastal regions. The third experiment shows that the Columbia River plume exhibits a strong seasonal signal with poleward flow close to the coast in winter and equatorward flow farther offshore in summer. The plume also has a significant impact on the near- surface stratification and baroclinic structure of the velocity field of the CCS from Washington to San Francisco.
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