Assessment of the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf Environmental by Commission on Life Sciences Staff

By Commission on Life Sciences Staff

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Early contract efforts focused on tides as the principal forcing mechanism. Later studies have taken a more comprehensive view of the circulation. Simulations of oil-spill trajectories have generally followed the same methodology as in the OSRA model; however, the exact formulation has depended on how the contractor chose to describe the circulation field. An additional complication in Alaskan waters is the role of ice and its influence on oil-spill trajectories (ice occurs only occasionally in coastal waters of New England and nowhere else in coastal waters of the contiguous United States).

The dependence of stirring and mixing on the complex relationship between the Lagrangian and Eulerian spectra implies that turbulent mixing is scale-dependent: the inferred rate of mixing depends strongly on the range of scales that are resolved. In addition, turbulent diffusion processes do not always transport material at a rate proportional to the larger-scale gradient, nor is the flux vector necessarily parallel to the mean gradient. Although it is almost universal practice to model subgrid-scale exchange processes as a kind of diffusion, that practice may be inappropriate, especially in a region with strong and variable topography and density fronts.

STATE-OF-THE-ART OVERVIEW: PHYSICAL OCEANOGRAPHIC PROCESSES, FEATURES, AND METHODS OF POTENTIAL IMPORTANCE TO THE ESP 31 ocean temperatures, the mean horizontal temperature in the planetary boundary layer, and the surface roughness. Their work is a good example showing the significant sensitivity of numerical model results to the data used as input. The difficulties of converting wind speed and direction to wind stress by determining a drag coefficient usually can be overcome. However, specification of the wind field based on observations from coastal stations, ships, sea-level atmospheric pressure, low-level cloud motions, satellite microwave scatterometry, and instrumented buoys usually is inadequate and is the limiting factor to determining the surface stress distribution.

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