Numerical modelling of stratified tidal flow over a fjord sill
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Field observations of tidally driven stratified flow in the sill area of Knight Inlet (British Columbia) revealed a very complicated structure, which includes solitary waves, upstream bifurcation, hydraulic jump and mixing processes. Recent observations suggest that the flow instabilities on the plunging pycnocline at the lee side of the sill may contribute to solitary wave generation through a subharmonic interaction. The present study reports on a series of numerical experiments of stratified tidal flow in Knight Inlet performed with the help of a fine resolution fully non-linear non-hydrostatic numerical model. The model reproduces all important stages of the baroclinic tidal dynamics observed in Knight Inlet. Results demonstrate that solitary waves are generated apart from the area of hydrodynamic instability. Accelerating tidal flux forms a baroclinic hydraulic jump just above the top of the sill, whereas the bifurcations and zones of shear instabilities are formed downstream of the sill. The first baroclinic mode having the largest velocity escapes from the generation area and propagates upstream, disintegrating further into a packet of solitary waves reviling the classical "non-subharmonic" mechanism of generation. The remaining part of the disturbance (slow baroclinic modes) is arrested by tidal flow and carried away to the lee side of the obstacle, where shear instability, billows and mixing processes are developed. Some sensitivity runs were performed for different value of tidal velocity. © 2007 Springer-Verlag.
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