Intermittency in Estuarine Turbulence: A Framework toward Limiting Bias in Microstructure Measurements

Kimberly Huguenard Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Maine, Orono, Maine

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Kris Bears Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Maine, Orono, Maine

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Brandon Lieberthal School of Biology and Ecology, University of Maine, Orono, Maine

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Abstract

Intermittent turbulence behavior has a number of implications for field sampling, namely, that if undersampled, it can result in over- or underestimates of turbulent kinetic energy (TKE) dissipation rates. Sampling thresholds and common distributions have previously been defined for oceanic environments, but estuaries remain relatively underrepresented. Utilizing vertical microstructure profilers is a robust way to directly measure TKE dissipation rates; however, microstructure sensors are delicate and conducting a limited number of profiles in a burst is desirable. In this work, a statistical framework is used to characterize intermittency in a partially mixed estuary. In particular, a multiple comparison test is proposed to evaluate the number of profiles required to sufficiently represent TKE dissipation averages. The technique is tested on a microstructure dataset from the Damariscotta River in Maine, which covers seasonal and fortnightly time scales. The Damariscotta River features a variety of bathymetric and channel complexities, which provide the opportunity to examine intermittency as it relates to different processes. Small-scale intermittency is prominent during stratified conditions in shallow locations as well as near channel-shoal morphology, channel bends, and constrictions.

© 2019 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Kimberly Huguenard, kimberly.huguenard@maine.edu

Abstract

Intermittent turbulence behavior has a number of implications for field sampling, namely, that if undersampled, it can result in over- or underestimates of turbulent kinetic energy (TKE) dissipation rates. Sampling thresholds and common distributions have previously been defined for oceanic environments, but estuaries remain relatively underrepresented. Utilizing vertical microstructure profilers is a robust way to directly measure TKE dissipation rates; however, microstructure sensors are delicate and conducting a limited number of profiles in a burst is desirable. In this work, a statistical framework is used to characterize intermittency in a partially mixed estuary. In particular, a multiple comparison test is proposed to evaluate the number of profiles required to sufficiently represent TKE dissipation averages. The technique is tested on a microstructure dataset from the Damariscotta River in Maine, which covers seasonal and fortnightly time scales. The Damariscotta River features a variety of bathymetric and channel complexities, which provide the opportunity to examine intermittency as it relates to different processes. Small-scale intermittency is prominent during stratified conditions in shallow locations as well as near channel-shoal morphology, channel bends, and constrictions.

© 2019 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Kimberly Huguenard, kimberly.huguenard@maine.edu
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