Cross-frontal transport along the Keweenaw coast in Lake Superior: A Lagrangian model study

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Offshore transport across the thermal front along the Keweenaw coast in Lake Superior was examined by tracking the trajectories of water particles in the model-simulated three-dimensional (3D) flow field of July 1973. Particles were released at different depths and horizontal locations within the Keweenaw Current during various wind events and were tracked until the end of the month. The trajectories of water particles showed a remarkable offshore cross-frontal water transport at the topographic-splitting point on the eastern side of the Keweenaw Waterway and near Eagle Harbor. This transport was driven dominantly by wind-induced Ekman flow near the surface but was controlled by local bottom topography in the deep region. A northeastward wind prevailed over the lake during July 1973. This wind tended to produce onshore water transports near the surface and hence caused downwelling against the coast. An offshore current was expected in the deep region based on the conservation of water mass. The vortex shedding off coastal bathymetry abutments plus baroclinic instability of the thermal front also led to offshore meandering of the temperature field in the deep region over local varying bottom topography. This meandering tended to produce a cyclonic vorticity and drove particles offshore across the thermal front along the northern coast of the Keweenaw Peninsula. © 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.

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Dynamics of Atmospheres and Oceans