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The Effect of Wind on the Dispersal of the Hudson River Plume

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  • 1 Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, New Jersey
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Abstract

The dispersal of the Hudson River plume in response to idealized wind forcing is studied using a three-dimensional model. The model domain includes the Hudson River and its estuary, with a realistic coastline and bottom topography of the New York Bight. Steady low river discharge typical of mean conditions and a high-discharge event representative of the spring freshet are considered. Without wind forcing the plume forms a southward coastally trapped current at low river discharge and a large recirculating bulge of low-salinity water during a high-discharge event. Winds affect the freshwater export through the mouth of the estuary, which is the trajectory the plume takes upon entering the waters of the Mid-Atlantic Bight inner shelf, and the rate at which freshwater drains downstream. The dispersal trajectory is also influenced by the particular geography of the coastline in the apex of the New York Bight. Northward wind causes offshore displacement of a previously formed coastally trapped plume and drives a new plume along the Long Island coast. Southward wind induces a strong coastal jet that efficiently drains freshwater to the south. Eastward wind aids freshwater export from the estuary and favors the accumulation of freshwater in the recirculating bulge outside the mouth of Raritan Bay. Westward wind delays freshwater export from Raritan Bay. The momentum balance of the modeled plume shows that buoyancy and wind forces largely determine the pattern of horizontal freshwater dispersal, including the spreading of freshwater over ambient, more saline water and the bulge formation.

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

Corresponding author address: Byoung-Ju Choi, College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University, 104 COAS Admin. Building, Corvallis, OR 97331-5503. Email: bjchoi@coas.oregonstate.edu

Abstract

The dispersal of the Hudson River plume in response to idealized wind forcing is studied using a three-dimensional model. The model domain includes the Hudson River and its estuary, with a realistic coastline and bottom topography of the New York Bight. Steady low river discharge typical of mean conditions and a high-discharge event representative of the spring freshet are considered. Without wind forcing the plume forms a southward coastally trapped current at low river discharge and a large recirculating bulge of low-salinity water during a high-discharge event. Winds affect the freshwater export through the mouth of the estuary, which is the trajectory the plume takes upon entering the waters of the Mid-Atlantic Bight inner shelf, and the rate at which freshwater drains downstream. The dispersal trajectory is also influenced by the particular geography of the coastline in the apex of the New York Bight. Northward wind causes offshore displacement of a previously formed coastally trapped plume and drives a new plume along the Long Island coast. Southward wind induces a strong coastal jet that efficiently drains freshwater to the south. Eastward wind aids freshwater export from the estuary and favors the accumulation of freshwater in the recirculating bulge outside the mouth of Raritan Bay. Westward wind delays freshwater export from Raritan Bay. The momentum balance of the modeled plume shows that buoyancy and wind forces largely determine the pattern of horizontal freshwater dispersal, including the spreading of freshwater over ambient, more saline water and the bulge formation.

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

Corresponding author address: Byoung-Ju Choi, College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University, 104 COAS Admin. Building, Corvallis, OR 97331-5503. Email: bjchoi@coas.oregonstate.edu

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