Date of Award

Fall 2002

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Ocean & Earth Sciences



Committee Director

Amoldrr Veils Levinson

Committee Member

Kathryn T. Bosley

Committee Member

Larry P. Atkinson

Call Number for Print

Special Collections LD4331.O35 M745 2002


Year long time series at eight stations in the Chesapeake Bay and inner shelf were used to determine the relative influence of wind, barometric pressure and thermosteric effects on subtidal sea level variability and slopes. Special emphasis was placed on the lower Chesapeake Bay, where inverse barometric effects accounted for up to 33% of the subtidal sea level variations and thermosteric effects accounted for less than 1 % of the variations. The greatest thermosteric influence was noted at the southernmost, saltier and shallower location (Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel). Wind forcing accounted for most of this station's variability, making up more than 67% of the variance. The wind frequency from any given direction varied from one station to another due to non-synoptic characteristics of atmospheric pressure in the Chesapeake Bay. Sea level slopes responded to the wind as expected: Northeasterly winds caused water to pile up in the southwestern comer of the bay, and southwesterly winds produced water level depressions. The slopes created by wind and atmospheric pressure during easterly wind condition are in the same order of magnitude. These wind-induced slopes were used to estimate geostrophic volume fluxes through the mouth of the bay. The geostrophic fluxes were different from fluxes calculated using the continuity equation, through the time rate change of sea level. However, the addition of wind stresses to the geostrophic flux estimates compared more favorably with those calculated using the continuity equation. The continuity constrained fluxes and the damped geostrophic fluxes indicated drainage of the bay with northwesterly, northerly, westerly and southwesterly winds and filling of the bay with northeasterly, easterly and southeasterly winds.


In Copyright. URI: This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).