The ocean circulation off the central California coast transports many ocean properties of interest to diverse communities. The circulation is responsible for a meridional heat flux that contributes to climate. Upwelling brings nutrients from depth to the surface, supporting the rich biological community from phytoplankton to whales. Terrestrial runoff is redistributed along the continental shelf and offshore.
However, the circulation is complex and highly variable in time and space. Transient features are found on a wide range of spatial scales from the complex eddies of the California Current System to the narrow fronts associated with coastal upwelling. This variability develops and evolves on the multiple time scales determined by the external fluxes of momentum, heat, and freshwater as well as by the internal dynamics of the fluid. Both strong local surface forcing and the stratification and transports of the eastern Pacific basin-scale circulation can influence the coastal circulation.
The objective of this project is to assess the relative roles of the surface forcing, open ocean conditions and internal processes on the regional circulation using a state of the art ocean model and ocean observations of the region from multiple sources. Specifically, we apply Regional Ocean Modeling System (ROMS) 4D variational data assimilation, ensemble prediction, and generalized stability analysis toolkits to explore the influence that open boundary conditions from the ECCO-GODAE project (Estimating the Circulation and Climate of the Ocean-Global Ocean Data Assimilation Experiment), surface fluxes from the COAMPS* (Coupled Ocean Atmosphere Modeling Predictions System) model, and constraints by satellite-derived data have on the observability and predictability of the Monterey Bay and greater California central coast circulation.
This project is generously supported by the National Oceanographic Partnership Program (NOPP), a consortium of federal agencies, including the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Science Foundation (NSF), Office of Naval Research (ONR), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Research is distributed between partners from four institutions: University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC); Naval Research Lab, Monterey (NRL, Montery); NOAA Pacific Fisheries Environmental Laboratory (NOAA PFEL); and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
*COAMPS is a registered trademark of the Naval Research Labs.