AbstractThis paper addresses the impact of atmospheric variability on ocean circulation in tidal and non-tidal basins. The data are generated by an unstructured-grid numerical model resolving the dynamics in the coastal area, as well as in the straits connecting the North Sea and Baltic Sea. The model response to atmospheric forcing in different frequency intervals is quantified. The results demonstrate that the effects of the two mechanical drivers, tides and wind, are not additive, yet non-linear interactions play an important role. There is a tendency for tidally and wind-driven circulations to be coupled, in particular in the coastal areas and straits. High-frequency atmospheric variability tends to amplify the mean circulation and modify the exchange between the North and the Baltic Sea. The ocean response to different frequency ranges in the wind forcing is area-selective depending on specific local dynamics. The work done by wind on the oceanic circulation depends strongly upon whether the regional circulation is tidally or predominantly wind-driven. It has been demonstrated that the atmospheric variability affects the spring-neap variability very strongly.