In shallow waters surface gravity waves (tides) propagate with a speed proportional to the square root of water depth (c = ???g(h+??)). As the ratio of free surface displacement to mean depth (??/h) approaches unity the wave will travel noticeably faster at high tide than at low tide, creating asymmetries in the tidal form. This physical process is explained analytically by the increased significance of friction and the nonlinear terms in the continuity and momentum equations. In a tidal system comprising a shallow bay adjacent to a deeper channel, tidal asymmetries will be more prevalent in the shallow bay. Thus strong barotropic gradients can be generated between the two, producing rapid accelerations of currents into the bay (relative to other bay tidal processes) and create a maximum peak in the flood tide that we describe as a floodtide pulse. These floodtide pulses can promote a landward flux of suspended-sediment into the bay. In Grizzly Bay (part of northern San Francisco Bay, USA), field observations verify the occurrence of floodtide pulses during the lowest low tides of the year. No pulses were observed in neighboring Honker Bay, which has an average depth ???30 cm greater than Grizzly Bay. Numerical simulations of northern San Francisco Bay using realistic bathymetry demonstrated that floodtide pulses occurred in Grizzly Bay but not in Honker Bay, consistent with the observations. Both observations and numerical simulations show that floodtide pulses promote a landward flux of sediment into Grizzly Bay. Numerical simulations of an idealized bay-channel system quantify the importance of mean depth and friction in creating these floodtide pulses. ?? 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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Floodtide pulses after low tides in shallow subembayments adjacent to deep channels