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Saturday, April 16, 2016

Two days after the wind

Ocean colors from the coast to the horizon during very calm conditions on 16 April 2016 
(two days after strong northwest winds)


Dan Gurney said...

I enjoyed an afternoon on Duncans Landing yesterday looking at these wonderful ocean colors. (And the warm sunshine with so little wind)

Is the light blue color close onshore due to upwelling?

Jackie Sones said...

Hi, Dan,

Glad you enjoyed such a nice day at the coast!

I've also been wondering about what causes these color patterns. Unfortunately, I'm not an oceanographer, so keep that in mind when reading my thoughts below.

I feel comfortable saying that these color patterns often appear after strong northwest winds, especially in the winter/spring.

It's possible the strong winds/waves move organic material and suspended sediment towards shore, and that the concentration of those materials is then visible as different color bands.

However, the winds also trigger upwelling, a movement of deep water towards the surface. It's possible that the deeper water contains materials that when concentrated at the surface create these color patterns.

Or, there might be other factors involved.

To summarize, I feel comfortable relating these color bands to strong winds (but that's more of a correlation than a cause). Those strong winds are also involved in upwelling, but I'm not certain if there's a known connection between upwelling and the color bands.

I'll try to ask around a bit to see if this phenomenon has been studied and if the mechanisms that create the color bands are known.

Thanks for asking!

:) Jackie