The fate of river discharge on the continental shelf 2. Transport of coastal low-salinity waters under realistic wind and tidal forcing

Vassiliki H. Kourafalou, Thomas N. Lee, Lie Yauw Oey, John D. Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

103 Scopus citations

Abstract

A three-dimensional numerical simulation of shelf circulation is presented. We employ realistic forcing for the Southeast U.S. Continental Shelf during the spring season. We show that the strongest offshore transport of river-induced, coastal, low-salinity waters and associated materials occurs near the surface. The preferred mean pathway is in the northeastward direction, and it takes about 2 months to cross the entire shelf. Owing to the mean direction of surface transport and the topography of the South Atlantic Bight shelf, the preferred location for springtime removal is off Charleston, South Carolina, and presumably in the vicinity of the Charleston Bump. The transport and fate of the river-induced, coastal, low-salinity waters during the spring season are determined by (1) the stratification of nearshore waters, which is due to the high river runoff and causes the decoupling between "near-surface" and "near-bottom" layers; (2) the prevailing northeastward winds, which cause significant offshore transport within the shallow near-surface Ekman layer; and (3) the tidally induced bottom stirring (M2 tides). Comparison of model and data time series of currents shows very good agreement. Standard deviations of the model and datacomputed empirical orthogonal functions are almost identical, while the respective variance-conserving spectra agree both in amplitude and phase.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number95JC03025
Pages (from-to)3435-3455
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research C: Oceans
Volume101
Issue numberC2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Forestry
  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology

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