• Bering Sea;
  • tidal currents;
  • bottom boundary layer;
  • spatial and temporal variability;
  • rotational motion;
  • variable eddy viscosity

[1] Vertical and spatial variability of tidal currents in the northern part of the Bering Sea near St. Lawrence Island were examined using observations made at 17 new and historical current meter mooring locations. The semidiurnal currents dominate over the diurnal currents. Semidiurnal currents exhibit a seasonal modulation with currents being somewhat stronger during the summer and fall when the density structure displays two-layer stratification. Diurnal currents exhibit a weak semiannual modulation. Examination of the vertical structure of tidal currents shows that maximum semidiurnal currents are observed in the upper or middle layers down to a depth of about 20 m, and below this depth the energy of the semidiurnal currents decreases rapidly. However, the energy of diurnal band currents remains almost constant with depth, decreasing only in close proximity to the bottom. Rotary spectral analysis applied to the records shows further differences: the M2 clockwise (CW) component of rotation dominates in the upper and middle water column but the counterclockwise component (CCW) dominates near the bottom. Interpretation of these observed results points to the different bottom boundary layers (BBL) for the CW and CCW motions in addition to the role of density stratification in organizing the BBL. We compare results of a vertically averaged two-dimensional model to the observationally derived tidal ellipse parameters and show that the barotropic formulation provides a first-order description of the tidal regime within the domain.