Near-Resonant Ocean Response to Sea Breeze on a Stratified Continental Shelf Academic Article uri icon


  • The spatial structure and temporal characteristics of sea breeze and the associated coastal ocean response in the northwest Gulf of Mexico are investigated using moored instruments, hydrographic stations, and wind measurements. Near the study area of 30°N, motions in the diurnal-inertial band (DIB) may be significantly enhanced by a near-resonant condition between local inertial and diurnal forcing frequencies. Wavelet analysis is used to quantify the results. Results indicate that diurnal sea-breeze variability peaks in summer and extends at least 300 km offshore with continuous seaward phase propagation. The maximumDIB oceanic response occurs in June when there is a shallow mixed layer, strong stratification, and an approximately 10-day period of continuous sea-breeze forcing. DIB current variance decreases in July and August as the consequence of the deepening of the mixed layer and a more variable phase relationship between the wind and current. River discharge varies interannually and can significantly alter the oceanic response during summer. The "great flood" of the Mississippi River in 1993 deepened the summer mixed layer and reduced the sea-breeze response during that year. Vertically, DIB currents are surface intensified, with a first baroclinic modal structure. The significance of these DIB motions on the shelf is that they can provide considerable vertical mixing in summer, as seen by the suppression of the bulk Richardson number (by a factor of 30) during strong DIB events. This provides a potential mechanism to ventilate seasonally occurring near-bottom hypoxic waters of the coastal ocean. © 2009 American Meteorological Society.

author list (cited authors)

  • Zhang, X., DiMarco, S. F., Smith, D. C., Howard, M. K., Jochens, A. E., & Hetland, R. D.

citation count

  • 44

publication date

  • September 2009