Date of Award

Spring 1987

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Ocean & Earth Sciences



Committee Director

Chester E. Grosch

Committee Member

Larry P. Atkinson

Committee Member

Shenn-Yu Chao


A one and a half layer nonlinear f-plane numerical model was used to study estuarine-shelf interactions. The single active layer covered a domain consisting of a 100 km long by 20 km wide channel discharging onto a 100 km wide by 300 km long shelf. Channel and "western” shelf boundaries were no-slip, "eastern" or oceanic boundary was free-slip and "northern" and "southern" shelf boundaries were open. The channel was forced with a constant inflow velocity spun up from 2 cm s-1 to 27 cm s-1over five days. The model initial conditions were a flat interface at ten meters and zero velocity except at the inflow. Effects of varying interfacial friction, Newtonian cooling (vertical mixing of density or detrainment), channel configuration and wind stress were examined. The principal result was to show that Newtonian cooling rather than interfacial friction played key role in deceleration and stagnation of an intrusion on the shelf relative to the constant phase speed in the channel. Deceleration of the density intrusion along the shelf coast agreed with results of three-dimensional numerical models, some laboratory models and with certain observed features of the Chesapeake Bay plume, for example. Results of a three-dimensional model were qualitatively reproduced as were features of a model which explicitly allowed the density interface to surface; that is, the plume flow was anticyclonic and marked by a region of supercritical flow along its outer edge. There was an abrupt transition, marked by strong nonlinear dynamics, from the plume to a coastal jet. Effects of channel configuration agreed with results of other models. Effects of wind stress were not adequately modeled probably due to failure to resolve the Ekman layer.


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