Downwelling wind, tides, and estuarine plume dynamics

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Lai, Zhigang
Ma, Ronghua
Huang, Mingfen
Chen, Changsheng
Chen, Yong
Xie, Congbin
Beardsley, Robert C.
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River plume
Downwelling wind
Estuarine dynamics
The Pearl River estuary
The estuarine plume dynamics under a downwelling-favorable wind condition were examined in the windy dry season of the Pearl River Estuary (PRE) using the PRE primitive-equation Finite-Volume Community Ocean Model (FVCOM). The wind and tide-driven estuarine circulation had a significant influence on the plume dynamics on both local and remote scales. Specifically, the local effect of downwelling-favorable winds on the plume was similar to the theoretical descriptions of coastal plumes, narrowing the plume width, and setting up a vertically uniform downstream current at the plume edge. Tides tended to reduce these plume responses through local turbulent mixing and advection from upstream regions, resulting in an adjustment of the isohalines in the plume and a weakening of the vertically uniform downstream current. The remote effect of downwelling-favorable winds on the plume was due to the wind-induced estuarine sea surface height (SSH), which strengthened the estuarine circulation and enhanced the plume transport accordingly. Associated with these processes, tide-induced mixing tended to weaken the SSH gradient and thus the estuarine circulation over a remote influence scale. Overall, the typical features of downwelling-favorable wind-driven estuarine plumes revealed in this study enhanced our understanding of the estuarine plume dynamics under downwelling-favorable wind conditions.
Author Posting. © American Geophysical Union, 2016. This article is posted here by permission of American Geophysical Union for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans 121 (2016): 4245–4263, doi:10.1002/2015JC011475.
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Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans 121 (2016): 4245–4263
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