Atmospheric Forcing of the Hatteras Coastal Ocean during PEACH

John Bane1, Harvey Seim2, Sara Haines2, Ruoying He3, Joseph B Zambon4 and Glen Gawarkiewicz5, (1)University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, United States, (2)University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Marine Sciences, Chapel Hill, NC, United States, (3)North Carolina State Univ., Raleigh, NC, United States, (4)NC State University, Raleigh, NC, United States, (5)Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA, United States
One of the central goals of the PEACH (Processes driving Exchanges At Cape Hatteras) program is to determine what roles the atmosphere plays in driving shelf-open ocean exchanges of ocean waters and their properties in the Cape Hatteras region of the western North Atlantic. The Hatteras coastal ocean is where Mid-Atlantic Bight and South Atlantic Bight shelf flows converge, and where the Gulf Stream, Slope Sea and Shelfbreak Jet currents flow over the adjacent continental slope. This area underlies the western portion of the mean Bermuda-Azores high pressure system. These mean atmospheric conditions prevail throughout much of the warm season, with occasional strong impacts from tropical cyclones. The cool season is much more temporally variable in all air-sea fluxes, due to the nearly continuous passing of extra-tropical cyclones through the region. Atmospheric forcing directly drives currents over the Hatteras continental shelf and upper slope through wind stress, and modifies waters through air-sea fluxes of heat and moisture. Regional wind patterns can also be affected through air-sea exchanges, which can feed back to the ocean through such altered stress and flux patterns. The manner in which shelf-ocean exchanges respond to the atmosphere depends upon several factors, including water stratification, Shelfbreak Jet location, and Gulf Stream and Hatteras Front positions.