Hydrographic conditions of a continental shelf region in the Northwest African Upwelling System from in-situ data

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

This study investigates the hydrographic and dynamic properties of the continental shelf region between Cape Juby (28.5 °N) and Agadir (30.4 °N) within the Moroccan Sub-region of the North West African Upwelling System. Data came from two cruises conducted in June (beginning of summer) and November (end of autumn) 2013. Coastal upwelling was obvious in both cruises in the in-situ temperature and salinity data as well as in remotely sensed sea surface temperature maps. ADCP data showed the presence of a strong jet like current associated with enhanced upwelling off Cape Juby. This strong quasi-permanent upwelling center was observed during both cruises. It results from the orientation of this portion of coast which is aligned with the dominant wind direction, as well as a wind intensification near the cape. The presence of a secondary upwelling front was also observed near the shelf break. It was accompanied by an intense baroclinic jet. The EK60 data showed evidence of internal waves as well as small and mesoscale turbulence that were probably strongly interacting with the mean upwelling circulation and made a straightforward interpretation of the data quite challenging. However, this study revealed the main physical processes of this poorly studied region, as well as their seasonal variability.