Hydrodynamics of the Changjiang Estuary and Adjacent Seas

  • Jianrong ZhuEmail author
  • Hui Wu
  • Lu Li
Part of the Estuaries of the World book series (EOTW)


In this chapter, we use our previous observational and modeling studies to analyze some basic dynamic features of the Changjiang (Yangtze River) Estuary, including the tidal and subtidal motion, saltwater intrusion, and the extension of a river plume into the ocean. The dynamics of this estuary are strongly regulated by tides on both intertidal and subtidal scales. Harmonic analysis shows that the tidal regime has one dominant semidiurnal constituent. The tidal range has significant seasonal variations, but is typically between 4 and 5 m during the spring tide and ~2 m during the neap tide. Tidal forcing induces significant subtidal circulation, resulting in a net landward flow into the North Branch of the Changjiang Estuary when river discharge is low. This residual transport forms a type of saltwater intrusion known as the saltwater-spilling-over (SSO). This causes high-salinity water in the North Branch to intrude upstream and finally spill over into the South Branch, which is the major channel of the estuary. The SSO has a major impact on the Changjiang Estuary and on the availability of freshwater for nearby cities. In areas near the river mouth, the tide-induced residual transport also results in significant inter-channel water mass exchange. Freshwater output from the Changjiang forms a large-scale plume, which plays a key role in physical processes in the adjacent East China Sea and Yellow Sea. We found that, in the region close to the river mouth, tidal forcing has a marked effect on the extension of the plume into the open ocean. Wind forcing also plays an important role in the dynamics of the Changjiang Estuary. Northerly winds can enhance the SSO and saltwater intrusion around the river mouth. In the plume-affected region, the wind significantly modulates the plume shape, especially farther from the river mouth.


Tide Subtidal circulation Saltwater intrusion River plume Wind forcing 



This work was based on research started in the early 1990s, with financial support from the Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant numbers: 40376027, 40776012, 40976056, 40721004, 41176071, and 41021064); the Major Program of Shanghai Science and Technology Committee (Grant numbers: 05XD14006 and 08231200102); and the Ministry of Science and Technology of China (Grant numbers: G1999043803, 2010CB951201, and 2011CB409801). We thank colleagues and students from the State Key Laboratory of Estuarine and Coastal Research (ECNU) for support in collecting field observations, numerical simulations, and laboratory analyses.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Estuarine and Coastal ResearchEast China Normal UniversityShanghaiChina

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