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Progress report on the CoOP wind-driven transport project: Coastal Ocean Advances in Shelf Transport (COAST)

August 27, 2001

Project Leaders (Oregon State University): Jack Barth, Patricia Wheeler and John Allen

Co-Principal Investigators (all OSU unless indicated otherwise): Mark Abbott, John Bane (UNC), Tim Boyd, Doug Caldwell, Tim Cowles, Jianping Gan, Burke Hales, Mike Kosro, Ricardo Letelier, Murray Levine, Jim Moum, Bill Peterson (also NMFS), Kathleen Ruttenberg (WHOI), Roger Samelson, Yvette Spitz and Alexander van Geen (LDEO)

Details of the sampling strategy and goals of the COAST project have been reported in previous CoOP newsletter articles and are available at our web site.

We are pleased to be joined by Kathleen Ruttenberg (WHOI) who obtained NSF support to sample dissolved organic phosphorus and sailed on the August R/V Thompson cruise. At last count, COAST is involving over 60 scientists, postdocs, research assistants, graduate and undergraduate students and is still growing.

COAST scientists are just completing an exciting summer field season. As I type this report, Murray Levine and colleagues are aboard R/V Wecoma recovering the 6 moorings that were deployed in mid-May. John Bane (UNC) is making a few more aircraft flights over the COAST study region off the central Oregon coast. To date, John and co-workers have flown 21 flights over the COAST region starting on May 16th as the moorings were installed.

Both the R/V Wecoma and the R/V Thomas G. Thompson returned to port on Saturday, August 25, after spending 19 days at sea. This was the second intensive sampling period, the first being in late May-early June, with the goal to compare cross-shelf transport and the coastal ecosystem between early and late summer conditions. The two vessels worked together to sample the Oregon shelf and slope between a region in the north, where the bottom topography is relatively simple (i.e., almost "two-dimensional"), and the submarine bank region (Stonewall and Heceta Banks) to the south. As during the May-June cruise, a variety of wind conditions were encountered. At the beginning of the August cruise, a strong (20 knots) upwelling favorable wind event was sampled. This was followed by a "southerly surge" event with weak (10 knot) southerly winds. An ensuing week and a half of upwelling favorable winds were followed by a very strong (35+ knots) downwelling favorable wind event as the remnant of a Pacific typhoon passed through the area. Both SeaSoar operations aboard Wecoma and pumped profiler and microstructure measurements aboard Thompson proceeded through the heavy weather. The downwelling conditions gave a preview of our Jan-Feb 2003 experiment and proved to us that we could make measurements during the strong winter-like wind forcing.

Scientists aboard both vessels made extensive use of a land-based web page which posted real-time results as they arrived via cell phone from both ships. Automated computer programs posted recent satellite SST and color imagery, and surface velocity maps from land-based coastal radar. The aircraft group posted their results as soon after their flights as possible. By sharing results in this way, we were able to optimize our sampling plans and to better coordinate the efforts of the two vessels. Scientists aboard Wecoma, conducting rapid, high-resolution surveys with SeaSoar, ADCP, bioacoustics and surface iron, made maps and vertical sections which placed the Thompson scientists' detailed vertical profiling in context.

Another new addition to COAST, supported by a small startup fund from COAS, was a pilot dye release experiment. We wanted to directly measure flow pathways using a Lagrangian technique. During the middle of the August sampling period, fluoroscein dye was injected at around 30m depth on the inshore flank of the upwelling jet. SeaSoar and ADCP sections from the Wecoma were used to target the release location and the dye injection was done from the 54' R/V Elakha. Dye tracking was done for one day on Wecoma using a tow-yo CTD and for four days using a MiniBAT towed undulating vehicle from Elakha. The dye was successfully tracked over the 4 day period and was observed moving south in the coastal jet. The data are being analyzed to verify the amount of cross-shelf and vertical motion and we're looking forward to combining this information with observations from the survey and profiling vessels, the moorings, and with numerical model predictions of the flow.

On a final note, we took the opportunity afforded by both the Wecoma and Thompson being at the OSU dock in Newport on August 4th to hold an open house for the public. The COAST scientists gave tours of the research vessels and explained the goals of CoOP and COAST. An OSU Press Release preceded the Open House and several articles appeared in local newspapers ranging from the OSU student newspaper to an Associated Press piece in the Portland-based "Oregonian." We had 450-500 people attend on a beautiful, sunny central Oregon coast day. While it took an extra effort by the scientists, research assistants and students who were busy loading the vessels, it was well worth sharing our research with the public who is ultimately funding our research.

Respectfully submitted by Jack Barth on behalf of all COASTers.