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Johan Winterwerp and Zheng Wang (2013)

Man-induced regime shifts in small estuaries-I: theory

Ocean Dynamics, 63(11-12):1279-1292.

This is Part I of two papers on man-induced regime shifts in small, narrow, and converging estuaries, with focus on the interaction between effective hydraulic drag, fine sediment import, and tidal amplification, induced by river engineering works, e.g., narrowing and deepening. In this part, a simple linear analytical model is derived, solving the linearized shallow water equations in exponentially converging tidal rivers. Distinguishing reflecting and non-reflecting conditions, a non-dimensional dispersion equation is derived which yields the real and imaginary wave numbers as a function of the estuarine convergence number and effective hydraulic drag. The estuarine convergence number describes the major geometrical features of a tidal river, e.g., intertidal area, convergence length, and water depth. This model is used in Part II analyzing the historical development of the tide in four rivers. Part I also presents a conceptual model on the response of tidal rivers to narrowing and deepening. It is argued that, upon the loss of intertidal area, flood-dominant conditions prevail, upon which fine sediments are pumped into the river, reducing its effective hydraulic drag. Then a snowball effect may be initiated, bringing the river into a hyper-turbid state. This state is self-maintaining because of entrainment processes, and favorable from an energetic point of view, and therefore highly stable. We may refer to an alternative steady state.

Elbe, suspended sediment, Regime shift, Dispersion equation, stratification, turbidity maximum, Scheldt, channels, Hydraulic drag, wave propagation, Ems, tidal asymmetry, Tidal amplification, Loire


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