Coastal upwelling and downwelling forcing of circulation in a semi-enclosed bay: Ria de Vigo

Barton, ED, Largier, JL, Torres, R, Sheridan, M, Trasvina, A, Souza, AJ, Pazos, Y and Valle-Levinson, A 2015 Coastal upwelling and downwelling forcing of circulation in a semi-enclosed bay: Ria de Vigo. Progress in Oceanography, 134. 173-189.

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Semi-enclosed bays in upwelling regions are exposed to forcing related to winds, currents and buoyancy over the shelf. The influence of this external forcing is moderated by factors such as connectivity to the open ocean, shelter by surrounding topography, dimensions of the bay, and freshwater outflows. Such bays, preferred locations for ports, mariculture, marine industry, recreational activities and coastal settlement, present a range of characteristics, understanding of which is necessary to their rational management. Observations in such a semi-enclosed bay, the Ria de Vigo in Spain, are used to characterize the influence of upwelling and downwelling pulses on its circulation. In this location, near the northern limit of the Iberian upwelling system, upwelling events dominate during a short summer season and downwelling events the rest of the year. The ria response to the external forcing is central to nutrient supply and resultant plankton productivity that supports its high level of cultured mussel production. Intensive field studies in September 2006 and June 2007 captured a downwelling event and an upwelling event, respectively. Data from eight current profiler moorings and boat-based MiniBat/ADCP surveys provided an unprecedented quasi-synoptic view of the distribution of water masses and circulation patterns in any ria. In the outer ria, circulation was dominated by the introduction of wind-driven alongshore flow from the external continental shelf through the ria entrances and its interaction with the topography. In the middle ria, circulation was primarily related to the upwelling/downwelling cycle, with a cool, salty and dense lower layer penetrating to the inner ria during upwelling over the shelf. A warmer, lower salinity and less dense surface layer of coastal waters flowed inward during downwelling. Without external forcing, the inner ria responded primarily to tides and buoyancy changes related to land runoff. Under both upwelling and downwelling conditions, the flushing of the ria involved shelf responses to wind pulses. Their persistence for a few days was sufficient to allow waters from the continental shelf to penetrate the innermost ria. Longer term observations supported by numerical modeling are required to confirm the generality of such flushing events in the ria and determine their typical frequency, while comparative studies should explore how these scenarios fit into the range of conditions experienced in other semi-enclosed bays.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Subjects: Earth Sciences
Divisions: Plymouth Marine Laboratory > Science Areas > Marine System Modelling
Depositing User: Ricardo Torres
Date made live: 29 Mar 2016 10:54
Last Modified: 13 Dec 2023 12:21

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