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Theses Doctoral

Intraseasonal circulation on the Western Antarctic Peninsula Shelf with implications for shelf-slope exchange

McKee, Darren Craig

The continental shelf on the western side of the Antarctic Peninsula is a region of substantial climate and ecosystem change. The Long Term Ecological Research project at Palmer Station has been sampling and studying the shelf ecosystem and physical environment since 1990. This dissertation seeks to improve our understanding of the subtidal and intraseasonal (hereafter defined together as 3-100 days) circulation on the neighboring continental shelf and is particularly motivated by the aims of the project to understand (1) how lateral transports of scalar parameters such as heat affect the vertical stratification and (2) how coastal canyon heads are linked to the larger-scale shelf circulation and why they are such ecologically productive environments. In this dissertation we study: (1) the origin and mixing of mesoscale eddies as agents of heat transport and stirring; (2) the spatial coherence of shelf-scale barotropic velocity fluctuations, their origin through flow-topography interaction with Marguerite Trough Canyon, and their associated heat transports; and (3) the wind-driven dynamics of the long-shore flow manifested through coastal trapped waves and their ability to both induce upwelling at a coastal canyon head and to modulate isopycnal depth at the continental shelf-break. This work takes an observational approach, utilizing the rare and expansive data set afforded by the long-term sampling program including shipboard CTD and ADCP profiles, moored current meter time series, and CTD profiles from an autonomous underwater vehicle.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Earth and Environmental Sciences
Thesis Advisors
Martinson, Douglas G.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
September 24, 2019