Articles | Volume 10, issue 5
Research article
30 Oct 2014
Research article |  | 30 Oct 2014

Effects of bottom topography on dynamics of river discharges in tidal regions: case study of twin plumes in Taiwan Strait

K. A. Korotenko, A. A. Osadchiev, P. O. Zavialov, R.-C. Kao, and C.-F. Ding

Abstract. The Princeton Ocean Model (POM) is used to investigate the intratidal variability of currents and turbulent mixing and their impact on the characteristics and evolution of the plumes of two neighbouring rivers, the Zhuoshui River and the Wu River, at the central eastern coast of Taiwan Strait. The two estuaries are located close to each other and their conditions are similar in many respects, and yet the two plumes exhibit significantly different behaviour. We explain this through differences of the bottom topography in the areas adjacent to the two river mouths. The Zhuoshui River runs into a shallow area that is permanently exposed to strong tidal mixing, while the Wu River mouth is located in a deeper, stratified area outside the region of intense mixing. This destruction of the plume by tidal mixing is confirmed by the results of numerical modeling with POM. The spatial and temporal variability of turbulent kinetic energy, the rates of its production by shear and destruction rate by buoyancy in the study, as well as the horizontal diffusivity, are analysed with the emphasis given to the dependence of the turbulence parameters on the bottom topography on the one hand and their influence on the river plumes on the other. The results of the study support the central hypothesis of this paper: the dynamic behaviours of the Zhuoshui and Wu plumes are different because their evolution occurs under different regimes of bottom-generated turbulent mixing. Further, we use a Lagrangian particle tracking model in combination with POM to investigate the effect of the tidal wetting-and-drying (WAD) near the Zhuoshui River estuary, and demonstrate that WAD leads to significant reduction of the plume extent and surface salinity deficit near the river mouth. We use observational data from a short field campaign in the study area to tune and validate the model experiments.