Flow separation, dipole formation, and water exchange through tidal straits
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionNøst, O. A. & Børve, E. (2021). Flow separation, dipole formation, and water exchange through tidal straits. Ocean Science, 17(5), 1403-1420. doi: 10.5194/os-17-1403-2021
We investigate the formation and evolution of dipole vortices and their contribution to water exchange through idealized tidal straits. Self-propagating dipoles are important for transporting and exchanging water properties through straits and inlets in coastal regions. In order to obtain a robust dataset to evaluate flow separation, dipole formation and evolution, and the effect on water exchange, we conduct 164 numerical simulations, varying the width and length of the straits as well as the tidal forcing. We show that dipoles form and start propagating at the time of flow separation, and their vorticity originates in the velocity front formed by the separation. We find that the dipole propagation velocity is proportional to the tidal velocity amplitude and twice as large as the dipole velocity derived for a dipole consisting of two point vortices. We analyze the processes creating a net water exchange through the straits and derive a kinematic model dependent on dimensionless parameters representing strait length, dipole travel distance, and dipole size. The net tracer transport resulting from the kinematic model agrees closely with the numerical simulations and provides an understanding of the processes controlling net water exchange.