Scientia Marina, Vol 76, No S1 (2012)

A Lagrangian study tracing water parcel origins in the Canary Upwelling System

Evan Mason
Departament d’Oceanografía Física, Institut de Ciències del Mar, CSIC, Spain

Francois Colas
Laboratoire d’Océanographie et du Climat: Expérimentation et Approches Numériques, LOCEAN/IRD/IPSL/UPMC, France

Josep L. Pelegrí
Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics, University of California Los Angeles, United States


The regional ocean circulation within the Canary Upwelling System between 31°N and 35°N is studied using numerical tools. Seasonal mean and near-instantaneous velocity fields from a previously-generated climatological Regional Ocean Modelling System (ROMS) solution of the Canary Basin are used to force a series of offline Lagrangian particle-tracking experiments. The primary objective is to identify the pathways through which water parcels arrive at the upwelling region north of Cape Ghir. Examining year-long pathways, the Azores Current contributes over 80% of particles annually, of which a large proportion arrive directly from offshore (from the northwest), while others travel along the shelf and slope from the Gulf of Cadiz. The remaining ~20% originate within the Gulf of Cadiz or come from the south, although the southern contribution is only significant in autumn and winter. When season-long pathways are considered, the alongshore contributions become increasingly important: northern contributions reach 40% in spring and summer, while southern values exceed 35% in winter. This study also shows that coastal upwelling changes both spatially and temporally. Upwelling becomes intensified near Cape Beddouza, with most upwelling occurring within ~40 km from shore although significant values may reach as far as 120 km offshore north of Cape Beddouza; at these locations the offshore integrated upwelling reaches as much as 4 times the offshore Ekman transport. In the Cape Beddouza area (32°N to 33°N), upwelling is negligible in February but intensifies in autumn, reaching as much as 3 times the offshore Ekman transport.


Canary Upwelling System; Canary Current; Lagrangian model; hydrodynamic model; ROMS; seasonal variability

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