Shelf break flows are often characterized by along-isobath jets with cross-shelf currents associated with tides and waves guided by variable topography. Here, we address the question: Can a superposition of such flows produce significant aperiodic cross-shelf transport? To answer this question, we use a barotropic analytic model for the jet based on a similarity solution of the shallow water equations over variable topography, a wave disturbance determined by the topography, and a diurnal tidal disturbance. We use standard Lagrangian methods to assess the cross-shelf transport, presenting the results, however, in a Eulerian frame, so as to be amenable to oceanographic observations. The relative roles of the different flow components in cross-shelf transport are assessed through an extensive parameter study. We find that a superposition of all three flow components can indeed produce consequential background aperiodic transport. An application of the model using recent observations from the Texas Shelf demonstrates that a combination of these background mechanisms can produce significant transport under realistic conditions.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited