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Volume transport in the Alaska Coastal Current

James D. Schumacher, Phyllis J. Stabeno, and Andrew T. Roach

NOAA/Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, Seattle, Washington

Continental Shelf Research, 9(12), 1071-1083 (1989)
Not subject to U.S. copyright. Published in 1990 by Pergamon Press.

Nine moorings were deployed in three sections in the Shelikof Strait/Semidi Islands region of the Alaskan continental shelf during the period of August 1984 to July 1985. Analysis of the resulting current and bottom pressure data, together with surface wind, provides a new understanding of transport in the Alaska Coastal Current. Using current observations, mean volume transport through the Shelikof sea valley was computed to be 0.85 × 10 m s, which is in good agreement with estimates of transport obtained from hydrographic data. Approximately 75% of this flux flowed seaward through the Shelikof sea valley, with the remainder flowing along the Alaska Peninsula. Data showed the expected increase of volume transport concomitant with maximum freshwater discharge in autumn. The greatest monthly mean transport, however, occurred in winter and was related to wind forcing. On time intervals of days, fluctuations in transport were often large (up to 3.0 × 10 m s), and generally geostrophic ( r = 0.79). Some of these fluctuations resulted from convergence of flow caused by the complex interaction of storms with orography. Approximately half of the fluctuations in volume transport were accounted for by the alongshore wind.

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