Wind-Driven Overturning, Mixing and Upwelling in Shallow Water: A Nonhydrostatic Modeling Study

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    Using a nonhydrostatic numerical model, this work demonstrates that onshore winds area principal agent of overturning and vigorous vertical mixing in nearshore water of lakes and inner continental shelves. On short (superinertial) timescales of a few hours, onshore winds create surface currents pushing water against the shore which, via the associated pressure gradient force, creates an undercurrent. The resulting overturning circulation rapidly becomes dynamically unstable due to the Kelvin-Helmholtz instability mechanism, internal gravity waves form, and vigorous vertical mixing follows. The vertical extent of the overturning cell depends on the speed of surface currents and density stratification (which is influenced by other processes such as tidal mixing). In smaller enclosed water bodies, wave reflection in conjunction with dynamical instabilities support rapid mixed-layer deepening and overturning of the entire water column. Based on these findings, the author postulates that dynamic instabilities following from onshore wind events are of fundamental importance to biogeochemical cycles and ecological processes in shelf seas and lakes.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number47
    Number of pages15
    JournalJournal of Marine Science and Engineering
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2017


    • Limnology
    • Nonhydrostatic modelling
    • Oceanography
    • Overturning
    • Shallow water
    • Upwelling
    • Vertical mixing


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