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Title: Controls on Turbulent Mixing in a Strongly Stratified and Sheared Tidal River Plume

Considerable effort has been made to parameterize turbulent kinetic energy (TKE) dissipation rate ..epsilon.. and mixing in buoyant plumes and stratified shear flows. Here, a parameterization based on Kunze et al. is examined, which estimates ..epsilon.. as the amount of energy contained in an unstable shear layer (Ri < Ric) that must be dissipated to increase the Richardson number Ri = N2/S2 to a critical value Ric within a turbulent decay time scale. Observations from the tidal Columbia River plume are used to quantitatively assess the relevant parameters controlling ..epsilon.. over a range of tidal and river discharge forcings. Observed ..epsilon.. is found to be characterized by Kunze et al.'s form within a factor of 2, while exhibiting slightly decreased skill near Ri = Ric. Observed dissipation rates are compared to estimates from a constant interfacial drag formulation that neglects the direct effects of stratification. This is found to be appropriate in energetic regimes when the bulk-averaged Richardson number Rib is less than Ric/4. However, when Rib > Ric/4, the effects of stratification must be included. Similarly, ..epsilon.. scaled by the bulk velocity and density differences over the plume displays a clear dependence on Rib, decreasing as Rib approaches Ric.more » The Kunze et al. ..epsilon.. parameterization is modified to form an expression for the nondimensional dissipation rate that is solely a function of Rib, displaying good agreement with the observations. It is suggested that this formulation is broadly applicable for unstable to marginally unstable stratified shear flows.« less
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Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
Journal ID: ISSN 0022-3670
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Journal of Physical Oceanography; Journal Volume: 46; Journal Issue: 8
Research Org:
NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Golden, CO (United States))
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE)
Country of Publication:
United States
16 TIDAL AND WAVE POWER geographic location/entity; estuaries; circulation/dynamics; coastal flows; mixing; shear structure/flows; turbulence