Measuring Inner-Shelf Circulation at the Martha's Vineyard Coastal Observatory (MVCO) using a High-Frequency Radar System

Anthony Kirincich, Physical Oceanography


Funded Project 2009:

The dynamics of the inner continental shelf of the coastal ocean play a critical role in establishing and maintaining exchange between the nearshore and the larger coastal ocean offshore. In the past, research in this area has been done exclusively using across-shelf arrays of moored velocity and hydrographic sensors that assume conditions are along-shelf uniform to estimate depth-dependent exchange. Yet, a major unknown in this research has been understanding the effects of spatial variability on circulation and exchange. Additional tools, such as land-based HF radar systems which measure surface currents over a broad spatial area with minimal infrastructure and operational costs, are needed to resolve the scales of spatial variations present and better understand their implications for exchange.

A high-frequency (HF) radar system, purchased separately and installed at the Martha’s Vineyard Coastal Observatory (MVCO) using a companion Access to the Sea proposal, would allow such observations to be made for the first time. This proposal requests funds to perform initial accuracy testing of the system and begin research using the resulting dataset. In-situ comparisons between standard acoustic Doppler current profilers (ADCPs) placed in the region and radar derived velocities would provide a detailed evaluation of this new system. The analysis of the initial dataset collected will allow an first glimpse of the spatial variability present, motivating more detailed research questions regarding the sources of spatial variability as well as collaborative work on the effects of this variability on biological and geological systems.