The Changing Nature of Shelf-Break Exchange Revealed by the OOI Pioneer Array Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Although the continental shelf and slope south of New England have been the subject of recent studies that address decadal-scale warming and interannual variability of water mass properties, it is not well understood how these changes affect shelf-break exchange processes. In recent years, observations of anomalous shelf and slope conditions obtained from the Ocean Observatories Initiative Pioneer Array and other regional observing programs suggest that onshore intrusions of warm, salty waters are becoming more prevalent. Mean cross-shelf transects constructed from Pioneer Array glider observations collected from April 2014 through December 2016 indicate that slope waters have been warmer and saltier. We examine shelf-break exchange events and anomalous onshore intrusions of warm, salty water associated with warm core rings located near the shelf break in spring 2014 and winter 2017 using observations from the Pioneer Array and other sources. We also describe an additional cross-shelf intrusion of ring water in September 2014 to demonstrate that the occurrence of high-salinity waters extending across the continental shelf is rare. Observations from the Pioneer Array and other sources show warm core ring and Gulf Stream water masses intrude onto the continental shelf more frequently and penetrate further onshore than in previous decades.

publication date

  • March 1, 2018