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Qiu, B, Rudnick DL, Cerovecki I, Cornuelle BD, Chen S, Schonau MC, McClean JL, Gopalakrishnan G.  2015.  The Pacific North Equatorial Current: New insights from the Origins of the Kuroshio and Mindanao Currents (OKMC) Project. Oceanography. 28:24-33.   10.5670/oceanog.2015.78   AbstractWebsite

Located at the crossroads of the tropical and subtropical circulations, the westward-flowing North Equatorial Current (NEC) and its subsequent bifurcation off the Philippine coast near 13 degrees N serve as important pathways for heat and water mass exchanges between the mid- and low-latitude North Pacific Ocean. Because the western Pacific warm pool, with sea surface temperatures > 28 degrees C, extends poleward of 17 degrees N in the western North Pacific, the bifurcation and transport partitioning of the NEC into the Kuroshio and Mindanao Currents are likely to affect the temporal evolution of the warm pool through lateral advection. In addition to its influence on physical conditions, NEC variability is also important to the regional biological properties and the fisheries along the Philippine coast and in the western Pacific Ocean. This article synthesizes our current understandings of the NEC, especially those garnered through the recent Origins of the Kuroshio and Mindanao Current (OKMC) project.

Kim, SY, Cornuelle BD, Terrill EJ, Jones B, Washburn L, Moline MA, Paduan JD, Garfield N, Largier JL, Crawford G, Kosro PM.  2013.  Poleward propagating subinertial alongshore surface currents off the US West Coast. Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans. 118:6791-6806.   10.1002/jgrc.20400   AbstractWebsite

The network comprising 61 high-frequency radar systems along the U.S. West Coast (USWC) provides a unique, high resolution, and broad scale view of ocean surface circulation. Subinertial alongshore surface currents show poleward propagating signals with phase speeds of O(10) and O(100-300) kmd-1 that are consistent with historical in situ observations off the USWC and that can be possibly interpreted as coastally trapped waves (CTWs). The propagating signals in the slow mode are partly observed in southern California, which may result from scattering and reflection of higher-mode CTWs due to curvature of shoreline and bathymetry near Point Conception, California. On the other hand, considering the order of the phase speed in the slow mode, the poleward propagating signals may be attributed to alongshore advection or pressure-driven flows. A statistical regression of coastal winds at National Data Buoy Center buoys on the observed surface currents partitions locally and remotely wind-forced components, isolates footprints of the equatorward propagating storm events in winter off the USWC, and shows the poleward propagating signals year round.

Zhang, XB, Cornuelle B, Roemmich D.  2012.  Sensitivity of Western Boundary Transport at the Mean North Equatorial Current Bifurcation Latitude to Wind Forcing. Journal of Physical Oceanography. 42:2056-2072.   10.1175/jpo-d-11-0229.1   AbstractWebsite

The bifurcation of the North Equatorial Current (NEC) plays an important role in the heat and water mass exchanges between the tropical and subtropical gyres in the Pacific Ocean. The variability of western boundary transport (WBT) east of the Philippine coast at the mean NEC bifurcation latitude (12 degrees N) is examined here. A tropical Pacific regional model is set up based on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology general circulation model and its adjoint, which calculates the sensitivities of a defined meridional transport to atmospheric forcing fields and ocean state going backward in time. The adjoint-derived sensitivity of the WBT at the mean NEC bifurcation latitude to surface wind stress is dominated by curl-like patterns that are located farther eastward and southward with increasing time lag. The temporal evolution of the adjoint sensitivity of the WBT to wind stress resembles wind-forced Rossby wave dynamics but propagating with speeds determined by the background stratification and current, suggesting that wind-forced Rossby waves are the underlying mechanism. Interannual-to-decadal variations of the WBT can be hindcast well by multiplying the adjoint sensitivity and the time-lagged wind stress over the whole model domain and summing over time lags. The analysis agrees with previous findings that surface wind stress (especially zonal wind stress in the western subtropical Pacific) largely determines the WBT east of the Philippines, and with a time lag based on Rossby wave propagation. This adjoint sensitivity study quantifies the contribution of wind stress at all latitudes and longitudes and provides a novel perspective to understand the relationship between the WBT and wind forcing over the Pacific Ocean.

Kim, SY, Terrill EJ, Cornuelle BD, Jones B, Washburn L, Moline MA, Paduan JD, Garfield N, Largier JL, Crawford G, Kosro PM.  2011.  Mapping the U.S. West Coast surface circulation: A multiyear analysis of high-frequency radar observations. Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans. 116   10.1029/2010jc006669   AbstractWebsite

The nearly completed U. S. West Coast (USWC) high-frequency radar (HFR) network provides an unprecedented capability to monitor and understand coastal ocean dynamics and phenomenology through hourly surface current measurements at up to 1 km resolution. The dynamics of the surface currents off the USWC are governed by tides, winds, Coriolis force, low-frequency pressure gradients (less than 0.4 cycles per day (cpd)), and nonlinear interactions of those forces. Alongshore surface currents show poleward propagating signals with phase speeds of O(10) and O(100 to 300) km day(-1) and time scales of 2 to 3 weeks. The signals with slow phase speed are only observed in southern California. It is hypothesized that they are scattered and reflected by shoreline curvature and bathymetry change and do not penetrate north of Point Conception. The seasonal transition of alongshore surface circulation forced by upwelling-favorable winds and their relaxation is captured in fine detail. Submesoscale eddies, identified using flow geometry, have Rossby numbers of 0.1 to 3, diameters in the range of 10 to 60 km, and persistence for 2 to 12 days. The HFR surface currents resolve coastal surface ocean variability continuously across scales from submesoscale to mesoscale (O(1) km to O(1000) km). Their spectra decay with k(-2) at high wave number (less than 100 km) in agreement with theoretical submesoscale spectra below the observational limits of present-day satellite altimeters.