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The Role of Upstream Waves and a Downstream Density Pool in the Growth of Lee Waves: Stratified Flow over the Knight Inlet Sill

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  • 1 Applied Physics Laboratory and School of Oceanography, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington
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Abstract

Observations and modeling simulations are presented that illustrate the importance of a density contrast and the upstream response to the time dependence of stratified flow over the Knight Inlet sill. Repeated sections of velocity and density show that the flow during ebb and flood tides is quite different: a large lee wave develops early in flood tide, whereas lee-wave growth is suppressed until the second half of ebb tide. There is a large upstream response that displaces as much water as accumulates in the lee wave, one that is large enough to also block the flow at a depth roughly consistent with simple dynamics. There is a large density contrast between the seaward and landward sides of the sill, and a “salty pool” of water is found in the seaward basin that is not found landward. The interface with this salty pool demarks the point of flow separation during ebb, initially suppressing the lee wave and then acting as its lower boundary. A simple two-dimensional numerical model of the inlet was used to explore the important factors governing the flow. A base simulation that included the landward–seaward asymmetry of the sill shape, but not the density difference, yielded a response that was almost symmetric with a large lee wave forming early during both flood and ebb tide. The simulation behaves more like the observations when a salty pool of water is added seaward of the sill. This salty pool induces flow separation in the model and suppresses growth of the lee wave until late in ebb. This effect is termed “density-forced” flow separation, a modification of “postwave” flow separation that allows for a density gradient across an obstacle.

Current affiliation: College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Science, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon

Corresponding author address: Dr. Jody M. Klymak, College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97330. Email: jklymak@coas.oregonstate.edu

Abstract

Observations and modeling simulations are presented that illustrate the importance of a density contrast and the upstream response to the time dependence of stratified flow over the Knight Inlet sill. Repeated sections of velocity and density show that the flow during ebb and flood tides is quite different: a large lee wave develops early in flood tide, whereas lee-wave growth is suppressed until the second half of ebb tide. There is a large upstream response that displaces as much water as accumulates in the lee wave, one that is large enough to also block the flow at a depth roughly consistent with simple dynamics. There is a large density contrast between the seaward and landward sides of the sill, and a “salty pool” of water is found in the seaward basin that is not found landward. The interface with this salty pool demarks the point of flow separation during ebb, initially suppressing the lee wave and then acting as its lower boundary. A simple two-dimensional numerical model of the inlet was used to explore the important factors governing the flow. A base simulation that included the landward–seaward asymmetry of the sill shape, but not the density difference, yielded a response that was almost symmetric with a large lee wave forming early during both flood and ebb tide. The simulation behaves more like the observations when a salty pool of water is added seaward of the sill. This salty pool induces flow separation in the model and suppresses growth of the lee wave until late in ebb. This effect is termed “density-forced” flow separation, a modification of “postwave” flow separation that allows for a density gradient across an obstacle.

Current affiliation: College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Science, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon

Corresponding author address: Dr. Jody M. Klymak, College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97330. Email: jklymak@coas.oregonstate.edu

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