Home > Explore Data & Reports > Effects of Winds on stratification and circulation in a partially mixed estuary


Li, Y., and M. Li. 2011. Effects of Winds on stratification and circulation in a partially mixed estuary. Journal of Geophysical Research, 116:C12012. https://doi.org/10.1029/2010JC006893

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Numerical experiments are conducted to investigate how axial winds affect stratification and circulation in the partially mixed estuary of Chesapeake Bay. In the absence of rotational effects, stratification in the estuary decreases following both down?estuary and up?estuary winds, but stratification experiences larger reduction and takes longer to recover under up?estuary winds. In the presence of rotational effects, wind?driven lateral circulations cause the lateral straining of density field and weaken the shear in the along?channel flows. Under the down?estuary winds, a counterclockwise lateral circulation steepens isopycnals in the cross?channel sections, while the Coriolis force acting on it decelerates the downwind current in the surface layer and the upwind?directed current in the bottom layer. Under the up?estuary winds, a clockwise lateral circulation flattens isopycnals in the cross?channel sections and reduces the shear between the surface and bottom currents. Hence, in the presence of rotational effects, the lateral straining offsets the effects of longitudinal straining such that the asymmetry in stratification reduction is significantly reduced between the down?estuary and up?estuary winds. Regime diagrams based on Wedderburn (W) and Kelvin (Ke) numbers are constructed to summarize the net effects of winds on estuarine stratification during both wind perturbation and postwind adjustment periods.

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