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  1. Abstract The characteristics and dynamics of depth-average along-shelf currents at monthly and longer time scales are examined using 17 years of observations from the Martha’s Vineyard Coastal Observatory on the southern New England inner shelf. Monthly averages of the depth-averaged along-shelf current are almost always westward, with the largest interannual variability in winter. There is a consistent annual cycle with westward currents of 5 cm s −1 in summer decreasing to 1–2 cm s −1 in winter. Both the annual cycle and interannual variability in the depth-average along-shelf current are predominantly driven by the along-shelf wind stress. In the absence of wind forcing, there is a westward flow of ∼5 cm s −1 throughout the year. At monthly time scales, the depth-average along-shelf momentum balance is primarily between the wind stress, surface gravity wave–enhanced bottom stress, and an opposing pressure gradient that sets up along the southern New England shelf in response to the wind. Surface gravity wave enhancement of bottom stress is substantial over the inner shelf and is essential to accurately estimating the bottom stress variation across the inner shelf. Significance Statement Seventeen years of observations from the Martha’s Vineyard Coastal Observatory on the inner continental shelf of southern New England reveal that the depth-average along-shelf current is almost always westward and stronger in summer than in winter. Both the annual cycle and variations around the annual cycle are primarily driven by the along-shelf wind stress. The wind stress is opposed by a pressure gradient that sets up along the southern New England shelf and a surface gravity wave–enhanced bottom stress. The surface gravity wave enhancement of bottom stress is substantial in less than 30 m of water and is essential in determining the variation of the along-shelf current across the inner shelf. 
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  3. Abstract

    Internal waves can influence water properties in coastal ecosystems through the shoreward transport and mixing of subthermocline water into the nearshore region. In June 2014, a field experiment was conducted at Dongsha Atoll in the northern South China Sea to study the impact of internal waves on a coral reef. Instrumentation included a distributed temperature sensing system, which resolved spatially and temporally continuous temperature measurements over a 4‐km cross‐reef section from the lagoon to 50‐m depth on the fore reef. Our observations show that during summer, internal waves shoaling on the shallow atoll regularly transport cold, nutrient‐rich water shoreward, altering near‐surface water properties on the fore reef. This water is transported shoreward of the reef crest by tides, breaking surface waves and wind‐driven flow, where it significantly alters the water temperature and nutrient concentrations on the reef flat. We find that without internal wave forcing on the fore reef, temperatures on the reef flat could be up to 2.0°C ± 0.2°C warmer. Additionally, we estimate a change in degree heating weeks of 0.7°C‐weeks warmer without internal waves, which significantly increases the probability of a more severe bleaching event occurring at Dongsha Atoll. Furthermore, using nutrient samples collected on the fore reef during the study, we estimated that instantaneous onshore nitrate flux is about four‐fold higher with internal waves than without internal waves. This work highlights the importance of internal waves as a physical mechanism shaping the nearshore environment, and likely supporting resilience of the reef.

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