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Geophysical Research Letters

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Snohomish River Estuary (Wash.), Infrared imaging, Estuarine sediments


Surface disruptions by boils during strong tidal flows over a rocky sill were observed in thermal infrared imagery collected at the Snohomish River estuary in Washington State. Locations of boil disruptions and boil diameters at the surface were quantified and are used to test an idealized model of vertical boil propagation. The model is developed as a two-dimensional approximation of a three-dimensional vortex loop, and boil vorticity is derived from the flow shear over the sill. Predictions of boil disruption locations were determined from the modeled vertical velocity, the sill depth, and the over-sill velocity. Predictions by the vertical velocity model agree well with measured locations (rms difference 3.0 m) and improve by using measured velocity and shear (rms difference 1.8 m). In comparison, a boil-surfacing model derived from laboratory turbulent mixed-layer wakes agrees with the measurements only when stratification is insignificant.


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