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Mar Environ Res. 2009 Oct;68(4):203-16. doi: 10.1016/j.marenvres.2009.06.008. Epub 2009 Jun 7.

The influence of wind on the water age in the tidal Rappahannock River.

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  • 1School of Marine Science, Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou 510275, China.

Abstract

Wind plays an important role in regulating mixing/stratification, estuarine circulation, and transport timescale in estuaries. A three-dimensional model was used to investigate the effect of wind on transport time by using the concept of water age (WA) in the tidal Rappahannock River, a western tributary of the Chesapeake Bay, USA. The model was calibrated for water level, current, and salinity. A series of experiments regarding the effects of wind on WA was conducted under various dynamic conditions. The effect of wind on transport timescale depends strongly on the competition between the wind and buoyancy forcings, and on the pre-status of the circulation. A down-estuary wind generally decreases WA along the estuary. An up-estuary wind increases WA substantially because it changes the vertical mixing and estuarine circulation more significantly. When the buoyancy forcing increases, the up-estuary wind effect decreases whereas the down-estuary wind effect increases. A 2-day period wind pulse with a maximum speed of 15 ms(-1) can alter WA for 3 days; but the wind influence on WA lasts up to 40 days in the simulation. Both local and non-local wind forcings alter WA distribution. The local wind enhances vertical mixing and changes the gravitational circulation in the downstream portion of the estuary whereas it enhances transport in the freshwater portion of the estuary. Consequently, the local wind has a significant impact on WA distribution. In contrast, the non-local wind does not change the gravitational circulation significantly by imposing setup (setdown) of water level at the open boundary, resulting in a lesser impact on WA distribution.

PMID:
19586659
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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