Slope and Shelf Flow Anomalies Off Oregon Influenced by the El Niño Remote Oceanic Mechanism in 2014–2016

TitleSlope and Shelf Flow Anomalies Off Oregon Influenced by the El Niño Remote Oceanic Mechanism in 2014–2016
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsKurapov, AL, Rudnick, DL, Cervantes, BT, Risien, CM
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
Keywordscoastal ocean processes, El Nino, regional ocean model, shelf-interior ocean interactions

Outputs of the regional ocean circulation model are analyzed to demonstrate the measurable impact of the El Niño remote oceanic forcing mechanism along the US West Coast during the major heat wave period of 2014–2016. The 2-km horizontal resolution model, based on the Regional Ocean Modeling System (ROMS), was run for the period of 2009–2018. Though the model does not assimilate observations, it performs well by comparison with time series data explaining observed variability on temporal scales from several days to seasonal and interannual. The El Niño-related oceanic anomalies provided by a global state estimate are introduced in the regional model at the southern boundary at 24N. These propagate alongshore with coastally trapped waves (CTWs) and influence the variability off Oregon (41°–46°N). In particular, CTWs are evident in the subsurface along-slope current, vs, and in the depth of the 26.5 kg m−3 isopycnal surface over the slope, z26.5. In summer 2014 and 2015, vs anomalies are positive (northward) and z26.5 anomalies are negative (deeper) along the US West Coast. In addition to the CTW patterns, z26.5 anomalies also exhibit slow-moving features associated with undercurrent widening, separation, and subsurface eddy variability. Over the Oregon shelf, El Niño conditions contributed to the sharp weakening of the southward alongshore current throughout the water column in July 2014 and 2015, despite the near-average southward, upwelling-favorable winds.