Initial observations of current, temperature and coastal sea level response to atmospheric and Gulf Stream forcing on the Georgia Shelf Academic Article uri icon


  • Winter observations of winds, coastal sea level and currents on the Georgia shelf indicate that low frequency currents in the inner and outer shelf regions are governed by different dynamics. Large amplitude current and temperature fluctuations at the 100 m isobath (near the shelfbreak) result primarily from events spawned by the Gulf Stream, such as northward propagating, wavelike meanders of the Gulf Stream front and cyclonic, cold‐core spin‐off eddies. Subtidal coastal sea level fluctuations appear to be a direct response to local wind forcing in the manner predicted by a frictional equilibrium model, with no indication of southward propagating continental shelf waves. The relatively wide (120 km), shallow (≈90% of shelf <50 m deep) shelf effectively isolates the inner shelf from disturbances propagating along the shelfbreak. Low frequency current variability at the 50 m isobath appears to be a mixed response to wind and Gulf Stream forcing. A conceptual model combining frictional equilibrium concepts with a meandering Gulf Stream is proposed to explain a significant portion of the observations. Copyright 1979 by the American Geophysical Union.

author list (cited authors)

  • Lee, T. N., & Brooks, D. A.

citation count

  • 50

publication date

  • April 1979