Connecting wind-driven upwelling and offshore stratification to nearshore internal bores and oxygen variability



This study utilizes field observations in southern Monterey Bay, CA, to examine how regional-scale upwelling and changing offshore (shelf) conditions influence nearshore internal bores. We show that the low-frequency wind forcing (e.g., upwelling/relaxation time scales) modifies the offshore stratification and thermocline depth. This in turn alters the strength and structure of observed internal bores in the nearshore. An internal bore strength index is defined using the high-pass filtered potential energy density anomaly in the nearshore. During weak upwelling favorable conditions and wind relaxations, the offshore thermocline deepens. In this case, both the amplitude of the offshore internal tide and the strength of the nearshore internal bores increase. In contrast, during strong upwelling conditions, the offshore thermocline shoals toward the surface, resulting in a decrease in the offshore internal tide amplitude. As a result, cold water accumulates in the nearshore (nearshore pooling), and the internal bore strength index decreases. Empirical orthogonal functions are utilized to support the claim that the bore events contribute to the majority of the variance in cross-shelf exchange and transport in the nearshore. Observed individual bores can drive shock-like drops in dissolved oxygen (DO) with rapid onset times, while extended upwelling periods with reduced bore activity produce longer duration, low DO events.