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Estuaries

, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp 132–146 | Cite as

The influence of wind and river pulses on an estuarine turbidity maximum: Numerical studies and field observations in Chesapeake Bay

  • E. W. North
  • S. Y. Chao
  • L. P. Sanford
  • R. R. Hood
Article

Abstract

The effect of pulsed events on estuarine turbidity maxima (ETM) was investigated with the Princeton Ocean Model, a three-dimensional hydrodynamic model. The theoretical model was adapted to a straight-channel estuary and enhanced with sediment transport, erosion, deposition, and burial components. Wind and river pulse scenarios from the numerical model were compared to field observations before and after river pulse and wind events in upper Chesapeake Bay. Numerical studies and field observations demonstrated that the salt front and ETM had rapid and nonlinear responses to short-term pulses in river flow and wind. Although increases and decreases in river flow caused down-estuary and up-estuary (respectively) movements of the salt front, the effect of increased river flow was more pronounced than that of decreased river flow. Along-channel wind events also elicited non-linear responses. The salt front moved in the opposite direction of wind stress, shifting up-estuary in response to down-estuary winds and vice-versa.

Modeled pulsed events affected suspended sediment distributions by modifying the location of the salt front, near-bottom shear stress, and the location of bottom sediment in relation to stratification within the salt front. Bottom sediment accumulated near the convergent zone at the tip of the salt front, but lagged behind the rapid response of the salt front during wind events. While increases in river flow and along-channel winds resulted in sediment transport down-estuary, only reductions in river flow resulted in consistent up-estuary movement of bottom sediment. Model predictions suggest that wind and river pulse events significantly influence salt front structure and circulation patterns, and have an important role in the transport of sediment in upper estuaries.

Keywords

Bottom Sediment Wind Stress Suspend Sediment Concentration Wind Event River Inflow 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Estuarine Research Federation 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. W. North
    • 1
  • S. Y. Chao
    • 1
  • L. P. Sanford
    • 1
  • R. R. Hood
    • 1
  1. 1.Horn Point LaboratoryUniversity of Maryland Center for Environmental ScienceCambridge

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