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Dynamics of the direct intrusion of Gulf Stream ring water onto the Mid-Atlantic Bight shelf

Abstract

© The Author(s), 2015. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License. The definitive version was published in Geophysical Research Letters 42 (2015): 7687–7695, doi:10.1002/2015GL065530.Onshore intrusions of offshore waters onto the Mid-Atlantic Bight shelf can greatly affect shelf circulation, biogeochemistry, and fisheries. Previous studies have concentrated on onshore intrusions of slope water. Here we present a direct intrusion of Gulf Stream warm-core ring water onto the shelf representing a previously unknown exchange process at the shelfbreak. Impingement of warm-core rings at the shelfbreak generates along-isobath intrusions that grow like Pinocchio's nose, extending hundreds of kilometers to the southwest. By combining satellite and Ocean Observatory Initiative Pioneer Array data and idealized numerical simulations, we discover that the intrusion results from topographically induced vorticity variation of the ring water, rather than from entrainment of the shelfbreak frontal jet. This intrusion of the Gulf Stream ring water has important biogeochemical implications and could facilitate migration of marine species across the shelfbreak barrier and transport low-nutrient surface Gulf Stream ring water to the otherwise productive shelfbreak region.National Science Foundation Grant Number: OCE-112912

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