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Influence of Santa Ana winds on the surface circulation of Todos Santos Bay, Baja California, Mexico

Luis Felipe Navarro-Olache, Rubén Castro, Reginaldo Durazo, Rafael Hernández-Walls, Adán Mejía-Trejo, Xavier Flores-Vidal, Ana Laura Flores-Morales

Abstract

The influence of easterly and northeasterly dry and warm Santa Ana winds (SAw) on the surface circulation of Todos Santos Bay, Mexico, is studied from surface currents and wind data measured during the most extreme periods of activity (autumn-winter season). Sea surface currents were measured using a system of coastally-based HF radar stations between 2009 and 2015. Winter-mean surface circulation showed a cyclonic tendency. Atmospheric variables allowed the grouping of ~122 SAw events, 23% of which caused a noticeable change in the background circulation. Event-mean current patterns showed dissimilar responses to the acting winds, with some SAw events driving weak offshore currents, another that developed an eddy-pair circulation inside the bay, and one rather intense (winds of 8-10 m s–1) that developed a clockwise circulation overturning the cyclonic long-term winter-mean. In general, changes in the circulation were related to an offshore transport of surface waters into the open ocean.

Keywords

Santa Ana winds; surface currents; high-frequency radars; Todos Santos Bay

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