The regional ocean circulation along the Southern Senegal shelf is studied using a numerical model for varying forcing fields during the upwelling season (November-May). The main objective is to study the shelf circulation of the marine environment in the Southern Senegal Upwelling Shelf (SSUS), the Lagrangian pathways by which waters are transported to the surface in the upwelling tongue and the fate of these waters. Model results are compared with hydrographic measurements during UPSEN2-ECOAO survey and satellite images datasets. The upwelling source waters and also the warm nearshore waters are analyzed, from a Lagrangian point of view, by computing the paths of particles that are passively advected by the regional ocean model velocity field (ROMS). It was found that the model is capable of representing the main characteristics of the SSUS whose Sea Surface Temperature (SST) patterns and their variability have an important similarities but the assessment of the current simulated by the model is less obvious because of the few available observations. The present results suggest that high frequency of wind has a strong influence over the mesoscale patterns of the cross-shore circulation in association with local topography and the presence of the Cape Verde peninsula. These cross-shore circulations are dominated by an onshore flow around 14.5°N and an offshore flow around 14.1°N. The onshore flow is in agreement with the previous eulerian studies regarding the coastal divergence of the surface flow (upwelling) that was strongly localized within a few tens of kilometers south of the Cape Verde in the Hann Bight. Lagrangian experiments show also very clearly that coastal warm waters are upwelling waters that were advected from Hann Bight and underwent a strong warming by the heat flux from the atmosphere to the ocean in a shallow area (∼10 m); therefore, easy to warm up. All numerical solutions have shown a tendency of upwelling particles remaining on the shelf for more than a month. These results may explain the enrichment of water in the SSUS and suggest the need to consider the whole shelf as a retention area.
Key words: Upwelling, ocean circulation, modeling, coastal dynamics, shelf, ROMS.
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