Publication Date

2008-01-01

Availability

Open access

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Meteorology and Physical Oceanography (Marine)

Date of Defense

2008-11-20

First Committee Member

Lynn K. Shay - Committee Chair

Second Committee Member

William E. Johns - Committee Member

Third Committee Member

Kevin D. Leaman - Committee Member

Fourth Committee Member

Brian K. Haus - Outside Committee Member

Abstract

A dual-station high frequency Wellen Radar (WERA), transmitting at 16.045 MHz, has been deployed along the Eastern Florida Shelf (EFS). From September 2004 to June 2005, a moored acoustic Doppler current profiler (ADCP) acquired subsurface current measurements within the radar footprint along the shelf break at 86-m depth. The shallowest ADCP bin located at 14-m depth is used as a comparison for the WERA surface measurements. The RMS differences range from 0.1 to 0.3 m s super -1 between the surface and 14-m depth, with good agreement over most of the period. Regression analyses indicate slopes near unity in the north-south (v-) component and approximately 0.5 for the east-west (u-) component velocities. Following validation of the HF radar surface current measurements, an assessment of the variability and character of eddies in the region is conducted for 2006. Optimal interpolation is utilized to create a uniform 45 km by 45 km grid of surface current data consisting of 1980 points in the inshore portion of the WERA domain. The Okubo-Weiss parameter is used to identify eddies as closed regions with values greater than a threshold of 2*10 super -8 s super -1. This method reveals a total of twenty-two eddy-like features over the year 2006. Given the asymmetric shape of the eddy regions, equivalent radii are computed as an estimate of eddy size with an annual average of 2.6 km. Eddy intensity is measured by maximum relative vorticity in the eddy region with an annual average of approximately 5f, where f is the local Coriolis parameter. Translational velocities are computed from the displacement of peak Okubo-Weiss parameter. This method tends to overestimate eddy speed given the shape-changing nature of the eddy regions. Nonetheless, the average translational velocity is 0.9 m s super -1 with a standard deviation of 0.4 m s super -1. Eddy tracks indicate a unique pattern in which eddies propagate inshore during the period of July to September and offshore during October to December related to position of the FC axis. The periodicity and spatial distribution of eddy events suggest that submesoscale eddy features are "wave-like" and centered along the strong topographical gradients between 200 to 600 m. By applying this methodology to other years of HF radar data, this statement can be tested with statistical confidence. In general, this study has shown the effectiveness of the Okubo-Weiss parameter in identifying eddy regions from a background field with large, ambient vorticity.

Keywords

Florida Current; Submesoscale; Velocity Shear

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