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PLoS One. 2010 Aug 30;5(8):e12481. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0012481.

Dynamics of wind setdown at Suez and the Eastern Nile Delta.

Author information

1
Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder, Colorado, USA. drews@ucar.edu

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Wind setdown is the drop in water level caused by wind stress acting on the surface of a body of water for an extended period of time. As the wind blows, water recedes from the upwind shore and exposes terrain that was formerly underwater. Previous researchers have suggested wind setdown as a possible hydrodynamic explanation for Moses crossing the Red Sea, as described in Exodus 14.

METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS:

This study analyzes the hydrodynamic mechanism proposed by earlier studies, focusing on the time needed to reach a steady-state solution. In addition, the authors investigate a site in the eastern Nile delta, where the ancient Pelusiac branch of the Nile once flowed into a coastal lagoon then known as the Lake of Tanis. We conduct a satellite and modeling survey to analyze this location, using geological evidence of the ancient bathymetry and a historical description of a strong wind event in 1882. A suite of model experiments are performed to demonstrate a new hydrodynamic mechanism that can cause an angular body of water to divide under wind stress, and to test the behavior of our study location and reconstructed topography.

CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE:

Under a uniform 28 m/s easterly wind forcing in the reconstructed model basin, the ocean model produces an area of exposed mud flats where the river mouth opens into the lake. This land bridge is 3-4 km long and 5 km wide, and it remains open for 4 hours. Model results indicate that navigation in shallow-water harbors can be significantly curtailed by wind setdown when strong winds blow offshore.

PMID:
20827299
PMCID:
PMC2932978
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0012481
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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