Marine Science Faculty Publications

A Time-dependent, Three-dimensional Model of the Delaware Bay and River System. Part 2: Three-dimensional Flow Fields and Residual Circulation

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numerical model, Delaware Bay, estuarine circulation, tidal currents, continental shelf, river plumes, hindcasting

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The three-dimensional model of Delaware Bay, River and adjacent continental shelf was described in Part 1. Here, Part 2 of this two-part paper demonstrates that the model is capable of realistic simulation of current and salinity distributions, tidal cycle variability, events of strong mixing caused by high winds and rapid salinity changes due to high river runoff. The 25-h average subtidal circulation strongly depends on the wind forcing. Monthly residual currents and salinity distributions demonstrate a classical two-layer estuarine circulation wherein relatively low salinity water flows out at the surface and compensating high salinity water from the shelf flows at the bottom. The salinity intrusion is most vigorous along deep channels in the Bay. Winds can generate salinity fronts inside and outside the Bay and enhance or weaken the two-layer circulation pattern.

Since the portion of the continental shelf included in the model is limited, the model shelf circulation is locally wind-driven and excludes such effects as coastally trapped waves and interaction with Gulf Stream rings; nevertheless, a significant portion of the coastal elevation variability is hindcast by the model. Also, inclusion of the shelf improves simulation of salinity inside the Bay compared with simulations where the salinity boundary condition is specified at the mouth of the Bay.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, v. 31, issue 3, p. 255-281