A note on the effect of wind waves on vertical mixing in Franks Tract, Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, California, USA

San Francisco Estuary and Watershed Science
By: , and 

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Abstract

A one-dimensional numerical model that simulates the effects of whitecapping waves was used to investigate the importance of whitecapping waves to vertical mixing at a 3-meter-deep site in Franks Tract in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta over an 11-day period. Locally-generated waves of mean period approximately 2 s were generated under strong wind conditions; significant wave heights ranged from 0 to 0.3 m. A surface turbulent kinetic energy flux was used to model whitecapping waves during periods when wind speeds > 5 m s-1 (62% of observations). The surface was modeled as a wind stress log-layer for the remaining 38% of the observations. The model results demonstrated that under moderate wind conditions (5–8 m s-1 at 10 m above water level), and hence moderate wave heights, whitecapping waves provided the dominant source of turbulent kinetic energy to only the top 10% of the water column. Under stronger wind (> 8 m s-1), and hence larger wave conditions, whitecapping waves provided the dominant source of turbulent kinetic energy over a larger portion of the water column; however, this region extended to the bottom half of the water column for only 7% of the observation period. The model results indicated that phytoplankton concentrations close to the bed were unlikely to be affected by the whitecapping of waves, and that the formation of concentration boundary layers due to benthic grazing was unlikely to be disrupted by whitecapping waves. Furthermore, vertical mixing of suspended sediment was unlikely to be affected by whitecapping waves under the conditions experienced during the 11-day experiment. Instead, the bed stress provided by tidal currents was the dominant source of turbulent kinetic energy over the bottom half of the water column for the majority of the 11-day period.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title A note on the effect of wind waves on vertical mixing in Franks Tract, Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, California, USA
Series title San Francisco Estuary and Watershed Science
Volume 6
Issue 2
Year Published 2008
Language English
Publisher John Muir Institute of the Environment
Contributing office(s) Toxic Substances Hydrology Program, Southwest Regional Director's Office, California Water Science Center
Description 11 p.
First page 1
Last page 11
Country United States
State California
Other Geospatial Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta