The amplitude of the frequency response function between coastal alongshore wind stress and adjusted sea level anomalies along the west coast of the United States increases linearly as a function of the logarithm (log10) of the period for time scales up to at least 60, and possibly 100, days. The amplitude of the frequency response function increases even more rapidly at longer periods out to at least 5 yr. At the shortest periods, the amplitude of the frequency response function is small because sea level is forced only by the local component of the wind field. The regional wind field, which controls the wind-forced response in sea level for periods between 20 and 100 days, not only has much broader spatial scales than the local wind, but also propagates along the coast in the same direction as continental shelf waves. Hence, it has a stronger coupling to and an increased frequency response for sea level. At periods of a year or more, observed coastal sea level fluctuations are not only forced by the regional winds, but also by joint correlations among the larger-scale climatic patterns associated with El Nin??o. Therefore, the amplitude of the frequency response function is large, despite the fact that the energy in the coastal wind field is relatively small. These data show that the coastal sea level response to wind stress forcing along the west coast of the United States changes in a consistent and predictable pattern over a very broad range of frequencies with time scales from a few days to several years.
Additional publication details
Alongshore wind forcing of coastal sea level as a function of frequency