Poleward propagating subinertial alongshore surface currents off the U.S. West Coast

Sung Yong Kim, Bruce D. Cornuelle, Eric J. Terrill, Burton Jones, Libe Washburn, Mark A. Moline, Jeffrey D. Paduan, Newell Garfield, John L. Largier, Greg Crawford, P. Michael Kosro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


The network comprising 61 high-frequency radar systems along the U.S. West Coast (USWC) provides a unique, high resolution, and broad scale view of ocean surface circulation. Subinertial alongshore surface currents show poleward propagating signals with phase speeds of O(10) and O(100-300) km d -1 that are consistent with historical in situ observations off the USWC and that can be possibly interpreted as coastally trapped waves (CTWs). The propagating signals in the slow mode are partly observed in southern California, which may result from scattering and reflection of higher-mode CTWs due to curvature of shoreline and bathymetry near Point Conception, California. On the other hand, considering the order of the phase speed in the slow mode, the poleward propagating signals may be attributed to alongshore advection or pressure-driven flows. A statistical regression of coastal winds at National Data Buoy Center buoys on the observed surface currents partitions locally and remotely wind-forced components, isolates footprints of the equatorward propagating storm events in winter off the USWC, and shows the poleward propagating signals year round. Key Points A unique resource to examine synoptic-scale alongshore variability Isolation of equatorward wind events in winter using a statistical model Poleward propagating surface signals year-round © 2013. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6791-6806
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 12 2013


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