Modeling the periodic stratification and gravitational circulation in San Francisco Bay, California



  • The Publications Warehouse does not have links to digital versions of this publication at this time


A high resolution, three-dimensional (3-D) hydrodynamic numerical model is applied to San Francisco Bay, California to simulate the periodic tidal stratification caused by tidal straining and stirring and their long-term effects on gravitational circulation. The numerical model is formulated using fixed levels in the vertical and uniform computational mesh on horizontal planes. The governing conservation equations, the 3-D shallow water equations, are solved by a semi-implicit finite-difference scheme. Numerical simulations for estuarine flows in San Francisco Bay have been performed to reproduce the hydrodynamic properties of tides, tidal and residual currents, and salt transport. All simulations were carried out to cover at least 30 days, so that the spring-neap variance in the model results could be analyzed. High grid resolution used in the model permits the use of a simple turbulence closure scheme which has been shown to be sufficient to reproduce the tidal cyclic stratification and well-mixed conditions in the water column. Low-pass filtered 3-D time-series reveals the classic estuarine gravitational circulation with a surface layer flowing down-estuary and an up-estuary flow near the bottom. The intensity of the gravitational circulation depends upon the amount of freshwater inflow, the degree of stratification, and spring-neap tidal variations.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Conference Paper
Publication Subtype:
Conference Paper
Modeling the periodic stratification and gravitational circulation in San Francisco Bay, California
Year Published:
Publisher location:
New York, NY, United States
First page:
Last page:
Number of Pages:
Conference Title:
Proceedings of the 1995 4th International Conference on Estuarine and Coastal Modeling
Conference Location:
San Diego, CA, USA
Conference Date:
26 October 1995 through 28 October 1995