National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2010

Modeled transport of freshwater from a line-source in the coastal Gulf of Alaska

Dobbins, E.L., A.J. Hermann, P.J. Stabeno, N.A. Bond, and R.C. Steed

Deep-Sea Res. II, 56(24), 2409–2426, doi: 10.1016/j.dsr2.2009.02.004 (2009)

A set of multiply nested atmospheric (The Penn State/NCAR Mesoscale Modeling system—MM5) and oceanic (Regional Ocean Modeling System—ROMS) models has been developed to investigate ecosystem forcing as part of the US. GLOBEC program. This study focuses on the most finely nested oceanic model in the hierarchy, that of the coastal Gulf of Alaska (CGOA) during 2001–2002, and compares the model's results to data collected by GLOBEC investigators. The 3-km resolution model realistically generates two physical features needed to reproduce the CGOA ecosystem: the cross-shelf water mass structure on the Seward Shelf, and the seasonal cycle of vertical structure. In addition, the temporal variability of currents and tracer fields generated by the model is greatly improved compared to previous work, as is the resolution of the Alaska Coastal Current (ACC). However, the treatment of the line-source freshwater source along the coast of Alaska still presents difficulties, because the model cannot resolve the many inlets and fjords where mixing takes place initially. This issue is investigated by testing the model's sensitivity to various forcing mechanisms which could compensate for this weakness, such as the addition of tidal mixing, the use of finely resolved winds, and the use of brackish runoff rather than purely freshwater for the line-source.

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