Nonlinear interactions of waves and tides in a subterranean estuary

Pei Xin, Shen Wang, Chunhui Lu, Clare Robinson, Ling Li

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26 Citations (Scopus)


Previous studies have revealed hysteretic behavior in subterranean estuaries in response to intensified wave conditions caused by offshore storm events, showing dependence of submarine groundwater discharge (SGD) and subsurface salt distribution on historic wave conditions. Although most shorelines worldwide are also exposed to tidal fluctuations, it is unclear how tides moderate wave-induced SGD and salinity distribution in subterranean estuaries. This study presents numerical simulations that explore the combined influence of intensified wave conditions and tides on groundwater flow and salt transport in a subterranean estuary. The results show that tides weaken the hysteretic wave effect on SGD, suggesting that a tidally influenced subterranean estuary is less sensitive to intensified wave conditions with respect to the water fluxes across the aquifer-sea interface. However, due to enhancement of salt-freshwater mixing, tides strengthen the hysteretic wave effect on the salt fluxes across the aquifer-sea interface, prolonging the recovery of salt distribution in the subterranean estuary to the prestorm state. These findings reveal the nonlinear, coupling nature of processes driven by oceanic oscillations at different time scales in subterranean estuaries.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2277 - 2284
Number of pages8
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 16 Apr 2015

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