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Journal of Geophysical Research

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Snohomish River (wash.) -- Tidal currents, Snohomish River Estuary (wash.) -- Turbulence, Estuaries -- Remote sensing


We investigate the relationship between turbulence statistics and coherent structures (CS) in an unstratified reach of the Snohomish River estuary using in situ velocity measurements and surface infrared (IR) imaging. Sequential IR images are used to estimate surface flow characteristics via a particle-image-velocimetry (PIV) technique, and are conditionally sampled to delineate the surface statistics of bottom-generated CS, or boils. In the water column, we find that turbulent kinetic energy (TKE) production exceeds dissipation near the bed but is less than dissipation in the midwater column and that TKE flux divergence closes a significant portion of the measured imbalance. The surface boundary leads to divergence in upwelling CS, and leads to the redistribution of vertical TKE to the horizontal. Very near the surface, statistical anisotropy is observed at length scales larger than the depth H (3–5 m), while boil-scale motions of O(1)m are nearly isotropic and exhibit a 25/3 turbulent cascade to smaller scales. Conditional sampling suggests that TKE dissipation in boils is approximately 2 times greater on average than dissipation in ambient flow. Similarly, surface boils are marked by significantly greater velocity variance, upwelling, divergence, and TKE flux divergence than ambient flow regions. Coherent structures and their surface manifestation, therefore, play an important role in the vertical transport of TKE and the water column distribution of dissipation, and are an important component of the TKE budget.


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Originally published in Journal of Geophysical Research.

Copyright 2013 by the American Geophysical Union.



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