A descriptive analysis of temporal and spatial patterns of variability in Puget Sound oceanographic properties
Temporal and spatial patterns of variability in Puget Sound's oceanographic properties are determined using continuous vertical profile data from two long-term monitoring programs; monthly observations at 16 stations from 1993 to 2002, and biannual observations at 40 stations from 1998 to 2003. Climatological monthly means of temperature, salinity, and density reveal strong seasonal patterns. Water temperatures are generally warmest (coolest) in September (February), with stations in shallow finger inlets away from mixing zones displaying the largest temperature ranges. Salinities and densities are strongly influenced by freshwater inflows from major rivers during winter and spring from precipitation and snowmelt, respectively, and variations are greatest in the surface waters and at stations closest to river mouths. Vertical density gradients are primarily determined by salinity variations in the surface layer, with stations closest to river mouths most frequently displaying the largest buoyancy frequencies at depths of approximately 4-6 m. Strong tidal stirring and reflux over sills at the entrance to Puget Sound generally removes vertical stratification. Mean summer and winter values of oceanographic properties reveal patterns of spatial connectivity in Puget Sound's three main basins; Whidbey Basin, Hood Canal, and Main Basin. Surface waters that are warmed in the summer are vertically mixed over the sill at Admiralty Inlet and advected at depth into Whidbey Basin and Hood Canal. Cooler and fresher Surface waters cap these warmer waters during winter, producing temperature inversions. (C) 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.