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Ocean Science An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 9, issue 2
Ocean Sci., 9, 399–410, 2013
https://doi.org/10.5194/os-9-399-2013
© Author(s) 2013. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Ocean Sci., 9, 399–410, 2013
https://doi.org/10.5194/os-9-399-2013
© Author(s) 2013. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 03 Apr 2013

Research article | 03 Apr 2013

Variability in the air–sea interaction patterns and timescales within the south-eastern Bay of Biscay, as observed by HF radar data

A. Fontán1, G. Esnaola1, J. Sáenz2, and M. González1 A. Fontán et al.
  • 1AZTI-Tecnalia, Marine Research Division. Herrera Kaia, Portualdea z/g, 20110 Pasaia, Spain
  • 2Department of Applied Physics II, Fac. of Science and Technology and PIE-UPV/EHU, University of the Basque Country UPV/EHU, Sarriena Auzoa z/g, 48940 Leioa, Spain

Abstract. Two high-frequency (HF) radar stations were installed on the coast of the south-eastern Bay of Biscay in 2009, providing high spatial and temporal resolution and large spatial coverage of currents in the area for the first time. This has made it possible to quantitatively assess the air–sea interaction patterns and timescales for the period 2009–2010. The analysis was conducted using the Barnett–Preisendorfer approach to canonical correlation analysis (CCA) of reanalysis surface winds and HF radar-derived surface currents. The CCA yields two canonical patterns: the first wind–current interaction pattern corresponds to the classical Ekman drift at the sea surface, whilst the second describes an anticyclonic/cyclonic surface circulation. The results obtained demonstrate that local winds play an important role in driving the upper water circulation. The wind–current interaction timescales are mainly related to diurnal breezes and synoptic variability. In particular, the breezes force diurnal currents in waters of the continental shelf and slope of the south-eastern Bay. It is concluded that the breezes may force diurnal currents over considerably wider areas than that covered by the HF radar, considering that the northern and southern continental shelves of the Bay exhibit stronger diurnal than annual wind amplitudes.

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