Structures of Lateral Flow and Turbulence in a Breaking Tidal Bore Rushing through a Curved Channel of the Qiantang Estuary

Qianjiang Zhang aState Key Laboratory of Satellite Ocean Environment Dynamics, Second Institute of Oceanography, Ministry of Natural Resources, Hangzhou, China
bZhejiang Institute of Hydraulic and Estuary (Zhejiang Institute of Marine Planning and Design), Hangzhou, China
cObservation and Research Station of Yangtze River Delta Marine Ecosystems, Ministry of Natural Resources, Zhoushan, China

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Cunhong Pan bZhejiang Institute of Hydraulic and Estuary (Zhejiang Institute of Marine Planning and Design), Hangzhou, China

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Weifang Gu eKey Laboratory of Ocean Space Resource Management Technology, Ministry of Natural Resources, Marine Academy of Zhejiang Province, Hangzhou, China

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Feng Zhou aState Key Laboratory of Satellite Ocean Environment Dynamics, Second Institute of Oceanography, Ministry of Natural Resources, Hangzhou, China
cObservation and Research Station of Yangtze River Delta Marine Ecosystems, Ministry of Natural Resources, Zhoushan, China
dSchool of Oceanography, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, China
eKey Laboratory of Ocean Space Resource Management Technology, Ministry of Natural Resources, Marine Academy of Zhejiang Province, Hangzhou, China

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Abstract

Tidal bores form in distinct funnel-shaped estuaries and bays initially and cause unique flow and turbulence dynamics when passing through meandering channels, such as in the Qiantang Estuary, Amazon River Estuary, and Seine River Estuary. To understand the lateral currents and turbulence processes of tidal bores in curved channels, velocity profiles and free-surface elevations are sampled for four semidiurnal tidal cycles in a curved channel located upstream of the Qiantang Estuary. During flood tides, the evolution of lateral currents experiences three distinct phases: first, there are inner-bank-toward lateral currents at the front of tidal bores, followed by two-layer helical currents in the middle of the flood tides, and finally, outer-bank-pointing lateral currents at the end of flood tides. Tidal bore breaking creates outbursts of turbulent kinetic energy. The enhanced turbulence emerges above the middle layers and persists for more than 10 minutes after the breaking front. The lateral momentum balance indicates that the decreasing lateral barotropic pressure gradient (LBTPG) and the increasing summation of centrifugal and Coriolis acceleration give rise to the variation in lateral currents. The phase lead of bores near the outer bank induced by shoal-channel topography generates an inner-bank-pointing LBTPG at the bore front and then gradually weakens it. Significant turbulence following bore breaking may be induced via the wave-induced turbulence mechanism by violent secondary waves. This research shows that complicated lateral currents are an important component of tidal bores flowing through meandering channels and that secondary waves after bore breaking can continually feed turbulence.

Significance Statement

The purpose of this study is to discern and explain the variation in lateral flows and turbulence when tidal bores rush through a curved estuarine channel. Lateral currents and turbulence play important roles in momentum exchange, scalar dispersion, and transverse topography evolution. Moreover, the discussion on lateral flows is necessary to extend the understanding of tidal bore hydrodynamics from the xz dimension to the xyz dimension. In situ observations reveal that a complicated but regular pattern of lateral currents occurred in every tidal cycle and that there was significant turbulence at the tidal bore front. Our findings show that the lateral difference in tidal bore propagation speed caused by shoal-channel topography in the curved bend is an essential reason for the generation of lateral currents and that the secondary waves simulated by bore breaking can continuously feed tidal bore turbulence.

© 2024 American Meteorological Society. This published article is licensed under the terms of the default AMS reuse license. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Feng Zhou, zhoufeng@sio.org.cn

Abstract

Tidal bores form in distinct funnel-shaped estuaries and bays initially and cause unique flow and turbulence dynamics when passing through meandering channels, such as in the Qiantang Estuary, Amazon River Estuary, and Seine River Estuary. To understand the lateral currents and turbulence processes of tidal bores in curved channels, velocity profiles and free-surface elevations are sampled for four semidiurnal tidal cycles in a curved channel located upstream of the Qiantang Estuary. During flood tides, the evolution of lateral currents experiences three distinct phases: first, there are inner-bank-toward lateral currents at the front of tidal bores, followed by two-layer helical currents in the middle of the flood tides, and finally, outer-bank-pointing lateral currents at the end of flood tides. Tidal bore breaking creates outbursts of turbulent kinetic energy. The enhanced turbulence emerges above the middle layers and persists for more than 10 minutes after the breaking front. The lateral momentum balance indicates that the decreasing lateral barotropic pressure gradient (LBTPG) and the increasing summation of centrifugal and Coriolis acceleration give rise to the variation in lateral currents. The phase lead of bores near the outer bank induced by shoal-channel topography generates an inner-bank-pointing LBTPG at the bore front and then gradually weakens it. Significant turbulence following bore breaking may be induced via the wave-induced turbulence mechanism by violent secondary waves. This research shows that complicated lateral currents are an important component of tidal bores flowing through meandering channels and that secondary waves after bore breaking can continually feed turbulence.

Significance Statement

The purpose of this study is to discern and explain the variation in lateral flows and turbulence when tidal bores rush through a curved estuarine channel. Lateral currents and turbulence play important roles in momentum exchange, scalar dispersion, and transverse topography evolution. Moreover, the discussion on lateral flows is necessary to extend the understanding of tidal bore hydrodynamics from the xz dimension to the xyz dimension. In situ observations reveal that a complicated but regular pattern of lateral currents occurred in every tidal cycle and that there was significant turbulence at the tidal bore front. Our findings show that the lateral difference in tidal bore propagation speed caused by shoal-channel topography in the curved bend is an essential reason for the generation of lateral currents and that the secondary waves simulated by bore breaking can continuously feed tidal bore turbulence.

© 2024 American Meteorological Society. This published article is licensed under the terms of the default AMS reuse license. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Feng Zhou, zhoufeng@sio.org.cn
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