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Characterizing Non-phase-locked Tidal Currents in the California Current System using High-frequency Radar
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  • Luke Kachelein,
  • Sarah T. Gille,
  • Matthew R. Mazloff,
  • Bruce Cornuelle
Luke Kachelein
University of California, San Diego

Corresponding Author:lkachele@ucsd.edu

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Sarah T. Gille
University of California, San Diego
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Matthew R. Mazloff
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Bruce Cornuelle
Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California
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Over nine years of hourly surface current data from high-frequency radar (HFR) off the US West Coast are analyzed using a Bayesian least-squares fit for tidal components. The spatial resolution and geographic extent of HFR data allow us to assess the spatial structure of the non-phase-locked component of the tide. In the frequency domain, the record length and sampling rate allow resolution of discrete tidal lines corresponding to well-known constituents and the near-tidal broadband elevated continuum resulting from amplitude and phase modulation of the tides, known as cusps. The FES2014 tide model is used to remove the barotropic component of tidal surface currents in order to evaluate its contribution to the phase-locked variance and spatial structure. The mean time scale of modulation is 243 days for the M$_2$ constituent and 181 days for S$_2$, with overlap in their range of values. These constituents’ modulated amplitudes are significantly correlated in several regions, suggesting shared forcing mechanisms. Within the frequency band M$_2$ $\pm$ 5 cycles per year, an average of 48\% of energy is not at the phase-locked frequency. When we remove the barotropic model, this increases to 64\%. In both cases there is substantial regional variability. This indicates that a large fraction of tidal energy is not easily predicted (e.g. for satellite altimeter applications). The spatial autocorrelation of the non-phase-locked variance fraction drops to zero by 150 km, comparable to the width of the swath of the recently launched Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) altimeter.
23 Aug 2023Submitted to ESS Open Archive
24 Aug 2023Published in ESS Open Archive