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Jungwoo Lee and Arnoldo Valle-Levinson (2013)

Bathymetric effects on estuarine plume dynamics

Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans, 118(4):1969-1981.

The influence of bathymetry on an estuary plume at an estuary-shelf transition is studied with a three-dimensional ocean circulation model. To understand the response of the plume to bathymetry, several types of estuarine shapes and shelf geometries were adopted in this numerical study. The channel's shape and its width-to-depth aspect ratio affected the fate of the plume by determining flow characteristics inside the estuary. Moreover, the bathymetry of the shelf such as the shelf slope and the direction of a submarine channel defined the plume characteristics on the shelf. An estuarine channel with a triangular cross section generated relatively stronger exchange flows at midestuary than a rectangular cross section, which resulted in a larger surface plume over the shelf. The extension of the submarine channel onto the shelf favored increased plume water transport out to the shelf, a result of reduced frictional effects on the shelf. The orientation of the submarine channel changed the direction of the plume over the shelf, with no additional external forces. Two fronts developed at the edges of the submarine channel because of enhanced lateral shears in the flow. When the estuary was relatively wide compared to the internal Rossby radius (Kelvin number Ke 5), or when the relative strength of the freshwater discharge compared to the estuary width was weak (Rossby number Ro 0.05), the coastal plume did not expand up-shelf. In fact, results indicated that freshwater up-shelf transport in a coastal current, moving against Coriolis' accelerations, was proportional to Ro.

submarine channel, density front, Rossby number, estuary, circulation, variability, plume, fate, buoyant coastal discharges, outflow, driven, bathymetry, continental-shelf, model, columbia river plume, Kelvin number
WOS:000320324100023
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