Coastal Upwelling Along the Eastern Shore - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

Coastal Upwelling Along the Eastern Shore


Upwelling is an oceanographical and meteorological process that occurs in oceans all over the world. In fact, it just happened recently here along the waters of the eastern shore.

Upwelling is a term used by meteorologists to describe the current conditions in the water off the coast. Upwelling occurs when deep, cold water rises to the surface. The water in the deepest depths of the oceans are much colder than the water at the surface because the sunshine is able to warm the water at the surface. Upwelling causes the cold water below, which is full of nutrients, to rise to the top. This nutrient-rich water becomes a breeding ground for fish and can make for great fishing opportunities. 

However, this colder water can also cause a large decrease in Sea Surface Temperatures (SST's) in a short period of time, making vacationing swimmers a bit unhappy. For example: The water temperature off the coast of Ocean City just a few days ago was nearly 75 degrees. Today, that same water is between 69-72 degrees. The colder water from below has replaced the warmer, less rich water that was at the surface. What caused this? Hurricane Arthur!

The wind plays a major role in the process of upwelling; the wind actually causes it. Winds that blow along the coastline push the water away from the coast, and the deeper and colder water below rises to replace it. This is what happened along the coast as Hurricane Arthur moved just east of our area.

Hurricanes aren't the only cause of upwelling. The west coast experiences a high number of upwelling events when a large area of high pressure is anchored in the middle of the Pacific. The winds around this system move from north to south along the water of the west coast. This is one reason why the water along the west coast is typically cooler than the east coast.

Not only does a hurricane bring rain, wind, flooding, large waves, and dangerous rip currents, but also upwelling at times. And the impact from the storm can linger for days after it exits.

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