Transport and retention in an upwelling region: The role of across-shelf structure

Moninya Roughan*, Newell Garfield, John Largier, Edward Dever, Clive Dorman, Dwight Peterson, Jeff Dorman

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    35 Citations (Scopus)


    The paradox of upwelling is the relationship between strong wind forcing, nutrient enrichment, and shelf productivity. Here we investigate how across-shelf structure in velocity and hydrography plays a role in the retention (inshore) and export (offshore) of particles such as nutrients, plankton and larvae. We examine the spatial structure of the coastal currents during wind-driven upwelling and relaxation on the northern Californian Shelf. The field work was conducted as part of the Wind Events and Shelf Transport (WEST) project, a 5-year NSF/CoOP-funded study of the role of wind-driven transport in shelf productivity off Bodega Bay (northern California) from 2000 to 2003. We combine shipboard velocity profiles (ADCP) and water properties from hydrographic surveys during the upwelling season to examine the mean across-shelf structure of the hydrography and velocity fields during three contrasting upwelling seasons, and throughout the upwelling-relaxation cycle. We also present results from two winter seasons that serve as contrast to the upwelling seasons. During all three upwelling seasons clear spatial structure is evident in velocity and hydrography across the shelf, exemplified by current reversals inshore and the presence of a persistent upwelling jet at the shelf break. This jet feature changes in structure and distance from the coast under different wind forcing regimes. The jet also changes from the north of our region, where it is a single narrow jet, adjacent to the coast, and to the south of our region, where it broadens and at times two jets become evident. We present observations of the California Under Current, which was observed at the outer edge of our domain during all three upwelling seasons. The observed across-shelf structure could aid both in the retention of plankton inshore during periods of upwelling followed by relaxation and in the export of plankton offshore in the upwelling jet.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2931-2955
    Number of pages25
    JournalDeep-Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography
    Issue number25-26
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2006


    • Bodega Bay
    • CoOP WEST
    • Pt Reyes
    • Relaxation


    Dive into the research topics of 'Transport and retention in an upwelling region: The role of across-shelf structure'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this