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Geophysical Research Letters

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Columbia River (Or. And Wash.) -- Tides -- Analysis, Plumes (Fluid dynamics) -- Mathematical models, Marine ecology


We present shipboard observations of very strong convergence, vertical velocities and mixing, and near-bed impacts associated with the leading-edge front of the tidally-pulsed Columbia River plume. With upwelling-favorable winds and riverflow of 4900 m3s−1, the plume propagates as a buoyant gravity current with a rotary, bore-like vertical frontal circulation and downwelling as strong as 0.35 m s−1. In waters as deep as 65 m, near-bed currents intensify to as much as 1.0 m s−1 after frontal passage, and are often associated with elevated acoustic backscatter. Mixing is locally strong, with an eddy diffusivity of O(0.2 m2s−1) 50 m behind the front, and T-S diagrams imply plume mixing with 10 m deep ocean water. These observations indicate that the leading-edge front of a surface-advected plume can cause exchanges of (a) nutrients between cold subsurface shelf waters and the river plume, and (b) nutrients and sediments across the sediment-water interface.


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