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Observations of estuarine circulation and solitary internal waves in a highly energetic tidal channel
Groeskamp, S.; Nauw, J.J.; Maas, L.R.M. (2011). Observations of estuarine circulation and solitary internal waves in a highly energetic tidal channel. Ocean Dynamics 61(11): 1767-1782. dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10236-011-0455-y
In: Ocean Dynamics. Springer-Verlag: Berlin; Heidelberg; New York. ISSN 1616-7341, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Author keywords
    Estuarine circulation; Internal waves; Solitons; Tides

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Abstract
    Despite vigorous tidal and wind mixing, observations in an estuarine tidal inlet in the Wadden Sea show that during part of the tidal cycle, vertical stratification and internal waves may still develop. Acoustic Doppler current profiler (ADCP) and conductivity, temperature, depth observations, collected over the past 6 years at 13 h anchor stations (ASs), reveal that these occur especially during slack tide, when there is little wind and large freshwater discharge from nearby Lake IJssel. Measurements with a moored ADCP show that in the same tidal phase, strong cross-channel circulation develops, which may suddenly reverse circulation sense due to passing density fronts. In the vertically stratified phase that follows after the front passage, propagating mode-one solitary internal waves are observed. These are resonantly generated during decelerating tidal ebb currents when the (shear) flow passes a transcritical regime (Froude number equal to 1). A combination of photographs (including one from the International Space Station), bathymetric data, and ASs data leads to the discovery of yet another source of internal waves in this area, produced during slackening tide by propagating lee waves that develop over a deep trench. We suggest that both the cross-channel circulation as well as the (solitary) internal waves may locally be of importance for the (re)distribution and transport of sediments and nutrients and may influence tidally averaged transports.

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