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  1. Abstract Curvature can create secondary circulation and flow separation in tidal channels, and both have important consequences for the along-channel momentum budget. The North River is a sinuous estuary where drag is observed to be higher than expected, and a numerical model is used to investigate the influence of curvature-induced processes on the momentum distribution and drag. The hydrodynamic drag is greatly increased in channel bends compared to that for straight channel flows. Drag coefficients are calculated using several approaches to identify the different factors contributing to the drag increase. Flow separation creates low-pressure recirculation zones on the lee side of the bends and results in form drag. Form drag is the dominant source of the increase in total drag during flood tides and is less of a factor during ebb tides. During both floods and ebbs, curvature-induced secondary circulation transports higher-momentum fluid to the lower water column through vertical and lateral advection. Consequently, the streamwise velocity profile deviates from the classic log profile and vertical shear becomes more concentrated near the bed. This redistribution by the lateral circulation causes an overall increase in bottom friction and contributes to the increased drag. Additionally, spatial variations in the depth-averaged velocity field due to the curvature-induced flow are nonlinearly correlated with the bathymetric structure, leading to increased bottom friction. In addition to affecting the tidal flow, the redistributed momentum and altered bottom shear stress have clear implications for channel morphodynamics. 
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  2. Abstract

    Idealized numerical simulations were conducted to investigate the influence of channel curvature on estuarine stratification and mixing. Stratification is decreased and tidal energy dissipation is increased in sinuous estuaries compared to straight channel estuaries. We applied a vertical salinity variance budget to quantify the influence of straining and mixing on stratification. Secondary circulation due to the channel curvature is found to affect stratification in sinuous channels through both lateral straining and enhanced vertical mixing. Alternating negative and positive lateral straining occur in meanders upstream and downstream of the bend apex, respectively, corresponding to the normal and reversed secondary circulation with curvature. The vertical mixing is locally enhanced in curved channels with the maximum mixing located upstream of the bend apex. Bend-scale bottom salinity fronts are generated near the inner bank upstream of the bend apex as a result of interaction between the secondary flow and stratification. Shear mixing at bottom fronts, instead of overturning mixing by the secondary circulation, provides the dominant mechanism for destruction of stratification. Channel curvature can also lead to increased drag, and using a Simpson number with this increased drag coefficient can relate the decrease in stratification with curvature to the broader estuarine parameter space.

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  3. The toxic diatom genus Pseudo-nitzschia is a growing presence in the Gulf of Maine (GOM), where regionally unprecedented levels of domoic acid (DA) in 2016 led to the first Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning closures in the region. However, factors driving GOM Pseudo-nitzschia dynamics, DA concentrations, and the 2016 event are unclear. Water samples were collected at the surface and at depth in offshore transects in summer 2012, 2014, and 2015, and fall 2016, and a weekly time series of surface water samples was collected in 2013. Temperature and salinity data were obtained from NERACOOS buoys and measurements during sample collection. Samples were processed for particulate DA (pDA), dissolved nutrients (nitrate, ammonium, silicic acid, and phosphate), and cellular abundance. Species composition was estimated via Automated Ribosomal Intergenic Spacer Analysis (ARISA), a semi-quantitative DNA finger-printing tool. Pseudo-nitzschia biogeography was consistent in the years 2012, 2014, and 2015, with greater Pseudo-nitzschia cell abundance and P. plurisecta dominance in low-salinity inshore samples, and lower Pseudo-nitzschia cell abundance and P. delicatissima and P. seriata dominance in high-salinity offshore samples. During the 2016 event, pDA concentrations were an order of magnitude higher than in previous years, and inshore-offshore contrasts in biogeography were weak, with P. australis present in every sample. Patterns in temporal and spatial variability confirm that pDA increases with the abundance and the cellular DA of Pseudo-nitzschia species, but was not correlated with any one environmental factor. The greater pDA in 2016 was caused by P. australis – the observation of which is unprecedented in the region – and may have been exacerbated by low residual silicic acid. The novel presence of P. australis may be due to local growth conditions, the introduction of a population with an anomalous water mass, or both factors. A definitive cause of the 2016 bloom remains unknown, and continued DA monitoring in the GOM is warranted. 
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  4. Abstract

    Flow separation has been observed and studied in sinuous laboratory channels and natural meanders, but the effects of flow separation on along‐channel drag are not well understood. Motivated by observations of large drag coefficients from a shallow, sinuous estuary, we built idealized numerical models representative of that system. We found that flow separation in tidal channels with curvature can create form drag that increases the total drag to more than twice that from bottom friction alone. In the momentum budget, the pressure gradient is balanced by the combined effects of bottom friction and form drag, which is calculated directly. The effective increase in total drag coefficient depends on two geometric parameters: dimensionless water depth and bend sharpness, quantified as the bend radius of curvature to channel width ratio. We introduce a theoretical boundary layer separation model to explain this parameter dependence and to predict flow separation and the increased drag. The drag coefficient can increase by a factor of 2–7 in “sharp” and “deep” sinuous channels where flow separation is most likely. Flow separation also enhances energy dissipation due to increased velocities in bends, resulting in greater loss of tidal energy and weakened stratification. Flow separation and the associated drag increase are expected to be more common in meanders of tidal channels than rivers where point bars that inhibit flow separation are more commonly found. The increased drag due to flow separation reduces tidal amplitude and affects velocity phasing along the estuary and could result in morphological feedbacks.

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  5. Abstract

    Delaware Bay is a large estuary with a deep, relatively narrow channel and wide, shallow banks, providing a clear example of a “channel‐shoal” estuary. This numerical modeling study addresses the exchange flow in this channel‐shoal estuary, specifically to examine how the lateral geometry affects the strength and mechanisms of exchange flow. We find that the exchange flow is exclusively confined to the channel region during spring tides, when stratification is weak, and it broadens laterally over the shoals during the more stratified neap tides but still occupies a small fraction of the total width of the estuary. Exchange flow is relatively weak during spring tides, resulting from oscillatory shear dispersion in the channel augmented by weak Eulerian exchange flow. During neap tides, stratification and shear increase markedly, resulting in a strong Eulerian residual shear flow driven mainly by the along‐estuary density gradient, with a net exchange flow roughly 5 times that of the spring tide. During both spring and neap tides, lateral salinity gradients generated by differential advection at the edge of the channel drive a tidally oscillating cross‐channel flow, which strongly influences the stratification, along‐estuary salt balance, and momentum balance. The lateral flow also causes the phase variation in salinity that results in oscillatory shear dispersion and is an advective momentum source contributing to the residual circulation. Whereas the shoals make a negligible direct contribution to the exchange flow, they have an indirect influence due to the salinity gradients between the channel and the shoal.

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