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The physical structure of a cold filament in a Chilean upwelling zone (Penı́nsula de Mejillones, Chile, 23°S)

Deep Sea Research Part I Oceanographic Research Papers
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/s0967-0637(01)00031-0
  • Coastal Upwelling
  • Cold Filament
  • Chile
  • Peninsula De Mejillones (23°S)
  • Biology
  • Earth Science
  • Ecology
  • Geography


Abstract Cold filaments associated with Eastern Boundary Currents are typically narrower than 100 km but can be several hundred kilometers long, extending from the coast to the open ocean in upwelling areas. One such structure, observed off Penı́nsula de Mejillones (23°S, Chile), was studied with both satellite images and two 5-days hydrographic cruises carried out during January 1997. The study used a coastal grid of 31 stations in an area of 165 ×155 km 2, approximately. The spatial distribution of the filament and its change between cruises are described from the horizontal distributions of dynamic height, temperature, salinity and dissolved oxygen. The filament was a shallow feature (thickness <100 m) and extended at least 165 km toward the open ocean. A meandering northward current flowed at the borders of the filament, separating oceanic and coastal waters of different physical properties. Comparisons of cross sections of the filament near the coast and in the oceanic zone show the ascent of the shallow salinity minimum (SSM), and its extension toward the ocean, bound to the filament. It is concluded that Subantarctic Water ((SAAW) distinguish by low salinity, high dissolved oxygen) and Equatorial Subsurface Water ((ESSW) high salinity, low dissolved oxygen, high nutrient content) form this filament, and that their relative proportions depend on the strength of the coastal upwelling. Thus, the knowledge of the dynamics of these structures is fundamental to better understanding of the spatial distribution of important biological variables, such as nutrients and chlorophyll, in the coastal ecosystem.

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