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Keywords:

  • Bering Sea;
  • cross-isobath flow;
  • nutrient;
  • upwelling;
  • westward intensification;
  • wind direction

[1] We present a simple framework for considering the variability of the eastern Bering Sea shelf circulation as a response to changes in wind direction. Both observations and numerical integrations show that much of the shelf flow reverses between northwesterly and southeasterly winds. While southeasterly winds are less frequent, they are associated with large on-shelf transport across most of the shelfbreak, and in October–April they are also accompanied by a reversal of the normally eastward flow near Cape Navarin. In contrast, northwesterly winds promote off-shelf transport across most of the shelfbreak, along with increased eastward transport near Cape Navarin. The westward-intensified flow in the Gulf of Anadyr adjusts to changes both in the flux across the long (∼1000 km) shelfbreak and in the Bering Strait throughflow. These results also hold under the more stratified summer conditions (May–September), but weaker summer winds drive smaller flows across the shelf break, and the majority of the on-shelf transport is directly into the Gulf of Anadyr.