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Title: Tidal Intrusion Fronts, Surface Convergence, and Mixing in an Estuary with Complex Topography

Observations from a tidal estuary show that tidal intrusion fronts occur regularly during flood tides near topographic features including constrictions and bends. A realistic model is used to study the generation of these fronts and their influence on stratification and mixing in the estuary. At the constriction, flow separation occurs on both sides of the jet flow downstream of the narrow opening, leading to sharp lateral salinity gradients and baroclinic secondary circulation. A tidal intrusion front, with a V-shaped convergence zone on the surface, is generated by the interaction between secondary circulation and the jet flow. Stratification is created at the front due to the straining of lateral salinity gradients by secondary circulation. Though stratification is expected to suppress turbulence, strong turbulent mixing is found near the surface front. The intense mixing is attributed to enhanced vertical shear due to both frontal baroclinicity and the twisting of lateral shear by secondary circulation. In the bend, flow separation occurs along the inner bank, resulting in lateral salinity gradients, secondary circulation, frontogenesis, and enhanced mixing near the front. In contrast to the V-shaped front at the constriction, an oblique linear surface convergence front occurs in the bend, which resembles a one-sided tidal intrusion front. Moreover, in addition to baroclinicity, channel curvature also affects secondary circulation, frontogenesis, and mixing in the bend. Overall in the estuary, the near-surface mixing associated with tidal intrusion fronts during flood tides is similar in magnitude to bottom boundary layer mixing that occurs primarily during ebbs.

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Author(s) / Creator(s):
 ;  ;  ;  
Publisher / Repository:
American Meteorological Society
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Journal of Physical Oceanography
Medium: X Size: p. 653-677
p. 653-677
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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