Propagation of Tidal and Subtidal Free Surface Oscillations into River Channels from the South Atlantic Bight

Monday, 15 December 2014
Suneil Krishnan Iyer1, Marc Cloarec2 and Alexander E Yankovsky1, (1)University of South Carolina Columbia, Columbia, SC, United States, (2)SeaTech, University of Toulon, Toulon, France
Tidal sea level oscillations propagate from continental shelves into river channels in the form of long gravity waves well beyond the limits of salt intrusion. These dynamics were a focus of numerous recent studies, which led to the development of the “tidal river” concept. Subtidal oscillations in the “weather” frequency band (periods from a few days to a few weeks) can exhibit similar propagation upstream the river channel, but have so far attracted less attention from researchers. In this work, we analyze data obtained from USGS stream gauge stations at several rivers flowing into the South Atlantic Bight along with NOAA tide gauge stations located on the adjacent coastline. Subtidal free surface oscillations in river channels decay at a slower rate than tidal oscillations (referenced to their amplitude on the coast), while their propagation speed is lower than at tidal frequencies. Potential to kinetic energy ratio sufficiently far upstream in the river channel becomes comparable for tidal and subtidal oscillations, as effects of earth’s rotation become negligible. The results suggest that a coastal storm surge can cause more severe flooding inland along the river channel than tides with comparable coastal amplitude.