National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2000

Trapped motion around the Pribilof Islands in the Bering Sea

Kowalik, Z., and P. Stabeno

J. Geophys. Res., 104(C11), 25,667–25,684, doi: 10.1029/1999JC900209 (1999)

Observations in the region of the Pribilof Islands and Canyon (PIC) reveal a clockwise circulation around the group of islands and around each of the two largest islands, St. Paul and St. George. Six current meters deployed around St. Paul Island revealed a steady clockwise flow around the island, which was strongest south of the island and weakest to the east. We use a high-resolution tidal model in the PIC region to show that this flow pattern results from tidal rectification over the shallow topography tides. Tidal residual currents of 10-15 cm s were predicted by the model, compared to mean currents of 5-20 cm s observed at the mooring sites. Both diurnal and semidiurnal tidal oscillations contribute to the clockwise circulation around the islands. In the diurnal band the enhanced currents occur also at the shelf slope where a tidal wave generates a shelf wave due to resonance with topography. In the PIC region the main shelf wave occurs in the Pribilof Canyon where both observations and measurements show enhancement of the diurnal tidal currents.

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