Tidal and nontidal oscillations in Elkhorn Slough, CA

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Breaker, L. C., Broenkow, W. W., Watson, W. E., & Jo, Y. -H. (2008). Tidal and nontidal oscillations in Elkhorn Slough, CA. Estuaries and Coasts, 31(2), 239-257. doi:10.1007/s12237-007-9021-8
TitleTidal and nontidal oscillations in Elkhorn Slough, CA
AuthorsC. Breaker, W. Broenkow, E. Watson, Y. Jo
AbstractElkhorn Slough is a shallow, tidally forced estuary that is directly connected to Monterey Bay. It is ebb-dominated and, due to continued erosion, the tidal prism has tripled over the past 40 years. Water level measurements at four locations are used to examine tidal and nontidal oscillations in Elkhorn Slough. The tidal response of Elkhorn Slough differs from that of Monterey Bay primarily due to the generation of a relatively large number of shallow-water tidal constituents that are due to tidal distortion caused by friction along the bottom and lateral boundaries, intertidal storage, and nonlinear advection. The shallow-water constituents range from 3 to almost 15 cycles per day (cpd) and include a rich variety of overtides and compound tides, whose amplitudes generally increase toward the head of the slough. The tidal harmonics are seasonally dependent, with lower amplitudes during the fall and winter and higher amplitudes in summer. The tidal constituents were examined using two types of spectral decomposition, the conventional power spectrum and the more recent Hilbert spectrum. Unlike the power spectrum, the Hilbert spectrum does not reveal any harmonic structure in the data. Energy associated with tidal distortion in this case appears to be broadly distributed across the spectral continuum. At least four nontidal oscillations occur in Elkhorn Slough with frequencies of 26.0, 39.7, 52.7, and 66.9 cpd. The Hilbert spectrum reveals maxima at 26, 39.7, and 66.9 cpd, but not at 52.7 cpd, suggesting that it is harmonically related to the oscillation at 26.0 cpd. The nontidal oscillations fall into the range of frequencies associated with the natural oscillations of Monterey Bay. However, evolutionary power spectra indicate that they appear to be permanent features of the system and thus are not necessarily consistent with seiche-like oscillations that are often transient and subject to damping. These oscillations could be caused by several factors including edge waves along the coast of Monterey Bay, long-period surface waves of atmospheric origin that enter the bay from offshore, or breaking internal waves in and around the Monterey Submarine Canyon. In conclusion, detailed hydrodynamic models are needed to provide a better understanding of how tidal harmonics are generated and preserved in Elkhorn Slough, and to determine the origin of the natural oscillations in Monterey Bay. © 2007 Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation.
JournalEstuaries and Coasts
Start page239
End page257
Subjectsdamping, erosion, hydrodynamics, hydrological modeling, oscillation, shallow water, water level, California, Elkhorn Slough, Monterey Bay, North America, United States
NoteCited By (since 1996):12