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Wind Modifications to Density-Driven Flows in Semienclosed, Rotating Basins

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  • 1 Instituto de Recursos, Universidad del Mar, Puerto Ángel, Mexico
  • | 2 Department of Civil and Coastal Engineering, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida
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Abstract

An analytical two-dimensional model is used to describe wind-induced modifications to density-driven flows in a semienclosed rotating basin. Wind stress variations produce enhancement, inversion, or damping of density-driven flows by altering the barotropic and baroclinic pressure gradients and by momentum transfer from wind drag. The vertical structure of wind-induced flows depends on αH, the nondimensional surface trapping layer, where α is the inverse of the Ekman layer depth d and H is the maximum water depth. For αH > 5 wind-driven flow structures are similar to the Ekman spiral; for αH < 2 wind-driven flows are unidirectional with depth. The relative importance of density to wind forcing is evaluated with the Wedderburn number W = τ−1ρH2D, which depends on water density ρ, mean depth H, a proxy of the baroclinic pressure gradient D, and wind stress τ. Because D depends on α and therefore on the eddy viscosity of water Az, wind speed and Az both modify W. Moreover, wind direction alters W by modifying the pressure gradient through the sea surface slope. The effect of Az is also evaluated with the Ekman number E = Az/fH2, where f is the Coriolis parameter. The alterations of the density-driven flow by the wind-driven flow are explored in the E and W parameter space through examination of the lateral structure of the resulting exchange flows. Seaward winds and positive transverse winds (to the right facing up basin in the Northern Hemisphere) result in vertically sheared flow structures for most of the E versus W space. In contrast, landward winds and negative transverse winds (to the left facing up basin) result in unidirectional landward flows for most of the E versus W space. When compared to observed and numerically simulated flow structures, the results from the analytical model compare favorably in regard to the main features.

Corresponding author address: Cristóbal Reyes-Hernández, Instituto de Recursos, Universidad del Mar, Puerto Ángel, Oaxaca 70902, Mexico. Email: creyes@angel.umar.mx

Abstract

An analytical two-dimensional model is used to describe wind-induced modifications to density-driven flows in a semienclosed rotating basin. Wind stress variations produce enhancement, inversion, or damping of density-driven flows by altering the barotropic and baroclinic pressure gradients and by momentum transfer from wind drag. The vertical structure of wind-induced flows depends on αH, the nondimensional surface trapping layer, where α is the inverse of the Ekman layer depth d and H is the maximum water depth. For αH > 5 wind-driven flow structures are similar to the Ekman spiral; for αH < 2 wind-driven flows are unidirectional with depth. The relative importance of density to wind forcing is evaluated with the Wedderburn number W = τ−1ρH2D, which depends on water density ρ, mean depth H, a proxy of the baroclinic pressure gradient D, and wind stress τ. Because D depends on α and therefore on the eddy viscosity of water Az, wind speed and Az both modify W. Moreover, wind direction alters W by modifying the pressure gradient through the sea surface slope. The effect of Az is also evaluated with the Ekman number E = Az/fH2, where f is the Coriolis parameter. The alterations of the density-driven flow by the wind-driven flow are explored in the E and W parameter space through examination of the lateral structure of the resulting exchange flows. Seaward winds and positive transverse winds (to the right facing up basin in the Northern Hemisphere) result in vertically sheared flow structures for most of the E versus W space. In contrast, landward winds and negative transverse winds (to the left facing up basin) result in unidirectional landward flows for most of the E versus W space. When compared to observed and numerically simulated flow structures, the results from the analytical model compare favorably in regard to the main features.

Corresponding author address: Cristóbal Reyes-Hernández, Instituto de Recursos, Universidad del Mar, Puerto Ángel, Oaxaca 70902, Mexico. Email: creyes@angel.umar.mx

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