Document Type


Date of Original Version





Hydrographic surveys and moored observations in Rhode Island Sound (RIS) in water depths of 30–50 m, off the southern New England coast, revealed a near-bottom intrusion of anomalously warm and saline water in late fall 2009. The properties of this water mass, with peak salinity of nearly 35, are typical of slope water that is normally found offshore of the shelfbreak front, located approximately 100 km to the south. The slope water intrusion, with a horizontal spatial scale of about 45 km, appears to have been brought onto the outer shelf during the interaction of a Gulf Stream warm core ring with the shelfbreak east (upshelf) of RIS. The along-shelf transport rate of the intrusion can be explained as due to advection by the mean outer-shelf along-isobath current, although the transit time of the intrusion is also consistent with the self-advection of a dense bolus on a sloping shelf. The mechanism responsible for the large onshore movement of the intrusion from the outer shelf is not entirely clear, although a wind-driven upwelling circulation appeared to be responsible for its final movement into the RIS region. Depth-averaged salinity at all RIS mooring sites increased by 0.5–1 over the 3–4 week intrusion period suggesting that the intrusion mixed irreversibly, at least partially, with the ambient shelf water. The mixing of the salty intrusion over the shelf indicates that net cross-isobath fluxes of salt and other water properties have occurred.