Bulge formation of a buoyant river outflow

Robert J. Chant, Scott M. Glenn, Elias Hunter, Josh Kohut, Robert F. Chen, Robert W. Houghton, Jen Bosch, Oscar Schofield

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Observations taken during the Lagrangian Transport and Transformation Experiment (LaTTE) in 2005 indicated that the Hudson's river outflow formed a bulge of recirculating fluid that limits the volume of fresh water that is advected away in a coastal current. Focusing on an event that began with downwelling winds we made estimates of the freshwater flux in the coastal current and the fresh water inventory of the bulge. The coastal current was characterized by a surface advected plume in thermal wind balance. However, the freshwater transport in the coastal current was less than 1/2 of the total freshwater outflow. The bulge extended 30 km from the coast and 40 km in the along-shore direction and was evident in ocean color imagery. Recirculation in the bulge region was also apparent in daily averaged surface current radar data, but this flow pattern was obscured in the hourly data by tidal and wind-forcing even in the diurnal band. Nevertheless, many aspects of the Hudson's outflow are consistent with recent laboratory experiments and numerical simulations of buoyant discharges. The growing bulge transports the river's outflow to the head of the Hudson shelf valley where it crosses the 50 m isobath. Previous work in this region indicates that frontal features reside along this isobath. We observed fresh water being transported along this isobath and is suggestive of a rapid cross-shelf transport pathway for fresh water. Both the bulge formation and cross-shelf transport have significant biogeochemical implications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberC01017
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 8 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Oceanography


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