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Journal of Physical Oceanography

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Tides, Water levels


An analysis of water level time series from 20 tide gauges in Southeast Asia finds that diurnal and semidiurnal astronomical tides exhibit strong seasonal variability of both amplitude and phase, which is not caused by known modulations of the astronomical tide-generating forces. Instead, it is found that the tidal properties are coherent with the western North Pacific monsoon index (WNPMI), indicating that monsoonal mechanisms are the likely cause. The study domain includes the Malacca Strait, Gulf of Thailand, the southern South China Sea, and Java Sea. The character of the geography and the tidal variability is different in each of these subregions. A new barotropic regional tide model is developed that incorporates the coupling between geostrophic currents, wind-driven (Ekman) currents, and tidal currents in the bottom boundary layer in order to examine the influence of these factors on tides. The dynamics thus preserve the frictional nonlinearities while neglecting advective nonlinearities and baroclinic tides, approximations that should be valid on the wide and shallow continental shelves in the study region. The model perturbation approach uses the climatological seasonal variability of wind stress and geostrophic currents, which are prescribed singly and in combination in the model, to explain the observed tidal variability. Results are most successful in the southern Gulf of Thailand and near Singapore, where it is found that the combined effect of geostrophic and Ekman currents shows increased skill in reproducing the tidal variability than individual models. Ambiguous results at other locations suggest more localized processes such as river runoff.


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