This report summarizes three years of meteorological and oceanographic measurements made by two buoys deployed in Port Valdez, one adjacent to the Valdez Marine Terminal (VMT) and one near the Valdez Duck Flats.
Time series at each of the buoys were analyzed for seasonal, intra-, and interannual patterns:
- Air and water temperatures, and solar radiation all showed a cyclical seasonal progression typical to subarctic regions, with minima in February and maxima in August.
- Relative humidity was high, as befits a coastal region with a large amount of annual precipitation, and tended to follow temperature trends.
- Air pressure, driven by large-scale atmospheric circulations, was similar between the two sites.
- Winds were primarily from the east in autumn and winter, again driven by the large-scale atmospheric patterns that create a low-pressure system over the Gulf of Alaska during that time. In late spring and summer, daily westerly sea breezes were common.
- A 114-year-long temperature climatology was constructed for the Valdez region, which showed a steady and persistent warming trend. Over the time period that the buoys have been deployed, winters have been warmer than average, and summers cooler than average.
- Surface currents tend to be higher at the VMT than at the Duck Flats, given their locations (along the middle of the Port versus at the head). Visual representations of surface current vectors showed that summer sea breezes consistently influenced surface currents, although the current directions were different between the two buoys.
- Tidal oscillations were more prevalent during calmer periods, and current directions were much more variable in autumn and winter.