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Eddy properties in the Southern California Current System

Impact:
This study has focused on mesoscale activity in the Southern CCS using a 5-km horizontal resolution model. Using an eddy detection and tracking algorithm based on the Okubo-Weiss parameter, we found that mesoscale activity in the SCCS was dominated by cyclonic eddies, consistent with in situ data (Stegmann and Schwing 2007). On average, these eddies have a diameter of 50 km and can remain distinct for up to 190 days. The vertical structure of the average cyclonic eddy obtained from averaging ~ 4000 eddies shows a consistent doming of isopycnals in the eddy center, bringing deep, cold, salty, and nutrient-rich water closer to the surface. These cyclonic eddies are formed at the coast through current instabilities, mostly in the fall. Eddies consistently trapped water from the northward-flowing California Undercurrent and the southward-flowing shallow California Current, and transported these water masses offshore at a speed of ~ 2 km day−1.

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