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Volume 36- Number 1 - 2001

Wind-driven circulation in Bahía de Antofagasta, northern Chile (23° S)

Ruben Escribano1 & Pamela Hidalgo2


(1) Instituto de Investigaciones Oceanológicas, Universidad de Antofagasta. Casilla 170, Antofagasta
(2) Departamento de Oceanografía, Universidad de Concepción. Casilla 160 C, Concepción




Circulation of Bahía de Antofagasta (23° S) was studied based on time series measurements of currents in summer and winter 1999, an oceanographic survey performed in August 1999, and a 9-months series of current profiling at 15 d time intervals. Current data, along with information on temperature, salinity, oxygen, and wind data, allowed the analysis of temporal and spatial variation of circulation within the bay. Bahía de Antofagasta is subject to intense variability of winds, to which currents seemed strongly associated, in time lags from 1 to 5 d. The cycle that most contributed to total variance of currents is in time scales of days. The bay showed a one-layer circulation at mean velocities of about 30 cm s-1. The current field suggested that inflow to the bay takes place at the northern end, and the outflow through the southern opening. Presence of an upwelling focus at the external area in the south exerts a strong influence on the circulation, by causing upwelled water to enter the bay from the south, and giving rise to a front that regulates water inflow/outflow. We present a conceptual model of circulation subject to variability in intensity of upwelling. The model predicts that under upwelling-relaxation conditions and establishment of the front in the southern opening, circulation would be dominated by a cyclonic gyre inside the bay, and that intense pulses of upwelling would induce water inflow. This work discusses the implications of our results in the context of water retention and renewal capacities of the water body of the bay.

Key words: Circulation, upwelling, currents, variability




1Laboratorio de Zooplancton, Instituto de Ciencias del Mar y Limnología,Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. A. P. 70-305, 04510 México, D. F. México
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