The Primary Importance of Secondary Circulation in Estuaries

Session ID#: 84837

Session Description:
The text-book illustration of an estuary is an along-channel section that includes the along-estuary salinity gradient, stratification, and the estuarine circulation. While this view reveals some of the important features of an estuary that relate to its dynamics and kinematics, it misses the lateral dimension, wherein lies the secondary circulation.  The secondary circulation is a lot weaker than the along-estuary flow, so why is it so important?  Because the cross-channel gradients in salinity are often much stronger than the along-channel gradients, the secondary circulation is often the dominant advective term contributing to the mean and tidal stratification balance.  Just to be clear, this means that not only was Pritchard wrong, but so was Simpson.   Moreover, even the along-estuary mean momentum balance is swamped by the advective contributions of the secondary flow.  ESCO-schmesco.  Note that this is not a new discovery.  Ron Smith was trying to explain the influence of secondary circulation on the salinity distribution back in the 1970’s.  Lerczak worked out its influence on momentum more than 10 years ago.  This tutorial will highlight the contributions of these and many other researchers who have illuminated the ways that the secondary circulation is overturning the conventional wisdom of estuarine dynamics.
  • CP - Coastal and Estuarine Processes
  • PS - Physical Oceanography: Mesoscale and Smaller
Index Terms:

4217 Coastal processes [OCEANOGRAPHY: GENERAL]
4235 Estuarine processes [OCEANOGRAPHY: GENERAL]
4546 Nearshore processes [OCEANOGRAPHY: PHYSICAL]
Primary Presenter:  W Rockwell Geyer, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Applied Ocean Physics and Engineering, Woods Hole, MA, United States
Moderators:  James B Edson, Univ Connecticut, Groton, United States and Carol Anne Clayson, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Physical Oceanography, Woods Hole, MA, United States

Abstracts Submitted to this Session:

No submissions have been made yet.
See more of: Tutorial Talks