Tides of Massachusetts and Cape Cod Bays
Irish, James D.
Signell, Richard P.
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Cape Cod Bay
The Massachusetts Bays Program made bottom pressure and water velocity observations in Massachusetts and Cape Cod Bays during 1990 and 1991. In the Bays, the sea surface elevation appeared to rise and fall in phase with equal amplitudes at each diurnal or semidiurnal tidal frequency. There is some amplification in Boston and Provincetown harbors. The semidiurnal tides (particularly the M2 constituent) dominate. Massachusetts and Cape Cod Bays are part of the Gulf of Maine/Bay of Fundy system which is resonant near the semidiurnal frequency. This resonance amplifies the importance of the semidiurnal tides so that diurnal and higher harmonic tides become negligible. The sea level tides force currents which move with the same frequencies, but whose amplitudes are affected by the bathymetry. The strongest currents exist in the channel between Race Point and Stellwagen Bank where tidal currents exceed 1 knot. Analysis of current records for their tidal signal is complicated by internal tides which contaminate the records. These internal waves at tidal frequency exist on the stratification in the water column, and disappear during winter well-mixed times. At other times they must be considered as a signifcant source of energy for mixing and resuspension of sediments.