On inter-tidal transport equation

By: , and 



The transports of solutes, sediments, nutrients, and other tracers are fundamental to the interactive physical, chemical, and biological processes in estuaries. The characteristic time scales for most estuarine biological and chemical processes are on the order of several tidal cycles or longer. To address the long-term transport mechanism meaningfully, the formulation of an inter-tidal conservation equation is the main subject of this paper. The commonly used inter-tidal conservation equation takes the form of a convection-dispersion equation in which the convection is represented by the Eulerian residual current, and the dispersion terms are due to the introduction of a Fickian hypothesis, unfortunately, the physical significance of this equation is not clear, and the introduction of a Fickian hypothesis is at best an ad hoc approximation. Some recent research results on the Lagrangian residual current suggest that the long-term transport problem is more closely related to the Lagrangian residual current than to the Eulerian residual current. With the aid of additional insight of residual current, the inter-tidal transport equation has been reformulated in this paper using a small perturbation method for a weakly nonlinear tidal system. When tidal flows can be represented by an M2 system, the new intertidal transport equation also takes the form of a convective-dispersion equation without the introduction of a Fickian hypothesis. The convective velocity turns out to be the first order Lagrangian residual current (the sum of the Eulerian residual current and the Stokes’ drift), and the correlation terms take the form of convection with the Stokes’ drift as the convective velocity. The remaining dispersion terms are perturbations of lower order solution to higher order solutions due to shear effect and turbulent mixing.

Additional publication details

Publication type Book chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Title On inter-tidal transport equation
DOI 10.1007/978-1-4612-4562-9_7
Year Published 1989
Language English
Publisher Humana Press
Contributing office(s) Pacific Regional Director's Office, San Francisco Bay-Delta
Description 23 p.
Larger Work Type Book
Larger Work Title Estuarine circulation
First page 133
Last page 156
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N