Climatological Estimation of Environmental Uncertainty Over the Middle Atlantic Bight Shelf and Slope Academic Article uri icon


  • Historical hydrographic data are used to determine the spatial and seasonal patterns of uncertainty in thermohaline and sound-speed fields in a well-sampled region, the continental shelf and slope in the Middle Atlantic Bight (MAB). Several different historical databases are combined to produce two-dimensional (2-D) plan view and cross-shelf fields of temperature, salinity, and sound speed in two separate regions, the New England shelf and the shelf off Delaware and Maryland. In addition, spatial maps of the sound-speed fields reveal that the maximum variance of the sound speed occurs at the edge of the continental shelf in the vicinity of the shelfbreak front. The standard deviation of the sound speed was largest during the spring and summer, with magnitudes as large as 14 m/s in a narrow band coinciding with the mean position of the shelfbreak front. During spring the peak in variance was located near the surface outcrop of the front, but during summer the maximum variance was centered at a depth of 30 m, immediately beneath the seasonal thermocline. Comparisons with both synoptic measurements from the Shelfbreak PRIMER experiment as well as moored time series from the Nantucket Shoals Flux Experiment confirm that the shelf-break front is a “hotspot” of uncertainty (maximum variance), and that the vertical structure of the peak variance is dependent on the presence or,absence of the seasonal thermocline.

publication date

  • April 2006