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The effect of stratification on tidal current profiles in a region of freshwater influence


A.W. VISSER, A.J. SOUZA, K. HESSNER, J.H. SIMPSON
Oceanologica Acta, Vol 17, No 4, pp. 369...381, 1994.
Abstract - - Observations of the semi-diurnal tidal current ellipses within the Rhine ROFI are reported. The vertical structure of these tidal ellipses are observed to be significantly different for stratified and well mixed conditions. In particular, during well mixed conditions, tidal currents are essentially rectilinear and directed parallel to the coast. With the onset of stratification, significant cross-shore components appear. These components are 180 degree out of phase from near surface to near-bottom with surface currents rotating anticyclonically, and bottom currents cyclonically. It is proposed that this phenomenon may be explained by a decoupling of the upper and lower portions of the water column during stratified periods due to reduced viscosity within the pycnocline. A two layer model is used to examine this hypothesis and appears to be succesful in reproducing many of the features of the observed semi-diurnal tidal ellipse variability.
klaus-werner.gurgel@uni-hamburg.de
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