AbstractA simple quasigeostrophic model is used to examine the outflow from a river, estuary or strait into a coastal ocean. As shown by Johnson et al. (2016), these quasigeostrophic outflows are accurately described by analytical long wave solutions. This paper first uses these solutions and contour dynamics simulations to discuss the behaviour of coastal outflows. Second, it extends the model and the long wave theory to consider the effects of ambient currents, tides, winds or a variable source flux. Third, consideration of the momentum flux at the source is used to understand the turning of the current, showing that steady solutions conserve momentum, hence resolving the momentum imbalance paradox of Pichevin and Nof (1997). Finally, a new numerical scheme to compute steady outflow boundaries is developed. The model focuses on the key dynamics driven by the source velocity and the generation of vorticity as the buoyant fluid adjusts. The simplicity of the model, and insight given by the long wave solutions, enables a full understanding of the dynamics. The outflows display a range of behaviours including indefinitely growing near-source bulges, steady boundary profiles with varying offshore width, bidirectional currents and rarefying or eddy-like leading heads, all of which can be understood with the long wave theory. Despite the simplicity of the model, the results show good agreement in comparison with observations, experiments and numerical models.
Journal of Physical Oceanography – American Meteorological Society
Published: Mar 13, 2017
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