Coronavirus Information for the UC San Diego Community

Our leaders are working closely with federal and state officials to ensure your ongoing safety at the university. Stay up to date with the latest developments. Learn more.

Coincident observations of dye and drifter relative dispersion over the inner shelf

TitleCoincident observations of dye and drifter relative dispersion over the inner shelf
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsRomero L., Ohlmann J.C, Pallas-Sanz E., Statom N.M, Perez-Brunius P., Maritorena S.
Date Published2019/09
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number0022-3670
Accession NumberWOS:000487042500002
Keywordscalifornia current system; circulation; dispersion; Fronts; gulf; In situ oceanic observations; Lagrangian circulation; langmuir; langmuir turbulence; mesoscale; mixed-layer; oceanic boundary-layer; oceanography; Remote sensing; statistics; submesoscale; surface; transition; transport; wave

Coincident Lagrangian observations of coastal circulation with surface drifters and dye tracer were collected to better understand small-scale physical processes controlling transport and dispersion over the inner shelf in the Gulf of Mexico. Patches of rhodamine dye and clusters of surface drifters at scales of O(100) m were deployed in a cross-shelf array within 12 km from the coast and tracked for up to 5 h with airborne and in situ observations. The airborne remote sensing system includes a hyperspectral sensor to track the evolution of dye patches and a lidar to measure directional wavenumber spectra of surface waves. Supporting in situ measurements include a CTD with a fluorometer to inform on the stratification and vertical extent of the dye and a real-time towed fluorometer for calibration of the dye concentration from hyperspectral imagery. Experiments were conducted over a wide range of conditions with surface wind speed between 3 and 10 m s(-1) and varying sea states. Cross-shelf density gradients due to freshwater runoff resulted in active submesoscale flows. The airborne data allow characterization of the dominant physical processes controlling the dispersion of passive tracers such as freshwater fronts and Langmuir circulation. Langmuir circulation was identified in dye concentration maps on most sampling days except when the near surface stratification was strong. The observed relative dispersion is anisotropic with eddy diffusivities O(1) m(2) s(-1). Near-surface horizontal dispersion is largest along fronts and in conditions dominated by Langmuir circulation is larger in the crosswind direction. Surface convergence at fronts resulted in strong vertical velocities of up to -66 m day(-1).

Student Publication: