Cross-shelf transport through the interaction among a coastal jet, a topographic wave, and tides

Helga S. Huntley, Charles W. McMahon, Joseph J. Kuehl, A. D. Kirwan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Shelf break flows are often characterized by along-isobath jets with cross-shelf currents associated with tides and waves guided by variable topography. Here, we address the question: Can a superposition of such flows produce significant aperiodic cross-shelf transport? To answer this question, we use a barotropic analytic model for the jet based on a similarity solution of the shallow water equations over variable topography, a wave disturbance determined by the topography, and a diurnal tidal disturbance. We use standard Lagrangian methods to assess the cross-shelf transport, presenting the results, however, in a Eulerian frame, so as to be amenable to oceanographic observations. The relative roles of the different flow components in cross-shelf transport are assessed through an extensive parameter study. We find that a superposition of all three flow components can indeed produce consequential background aperiodic transport. An application of the model using recent observations from the Texas Shelf demonstrates that a combination of these background mechanisms can produce significant transport under realistic conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number181
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 16 2020
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


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