Volume 92, Issue C4 p. 3925-3943

Shipboard acoustic Doppler profiler velocity observations near Point Conception: Spring 1983

First published: 15 April 1987
Citations: 23


During April 1983, shipboard Doppler acoustic log current profiles were collected in an effort to characterize the flow field near points Conception and Arguello, California. Subsurface velocity maps derived from these profiles have been used to describe spatial flow structures both on and off the shelf and to investigate flow variability as a function of time and of wind stress. Persistent westward flow out of the northern half of the Santa Barbara Channel and eastward flow into its southern half were observed regardless of the direction of the local wind stress. During one well-documented upwelling-favorable wind event, currents responded in the form of an energetic (maximum 21-m speeds of >60 cm s−1) offshore squirt of cold water. During weak or downwelling-favorable winds, currents continuous with the Santa Barbara Channel outflow were observed flowing to the northwest following the local isobaths before turning offshore west of Point Arguello. Evidence for wind forcing of current fluctuations nearshore between the points and north of Point Arguello was found. Lack of a thermal wind balance between directly measured velocity shear and horizontal density gradient was explained by the presence of large accelerations in the momentum equations. Lack of a consistent relation between velocity and temperature gradient illustrates the difficulty in estimating velocity from temperature information alone in this area.