What processes control the net currents through shallow straits? A review with application to the Bohai Strait, China

Li, Yanfang, Wolanski, Eric, and Zhang, Hua (2015) What processes control the net currents through shallow straits? A review with application to the Bohai Strait, China. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science , 158. pp. 1-11.

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We review the key processes controlling the net water circulation in shallow straits. The circulation is mainly barotropic, driven by the difference in mean sea level and tides on either side of the strait, the wind, the meandering of the currents in the adjoining seas, the bathymetry including the shape and width of the mouths and the presence of narrows, shoals, sills, islands, and lateral embayments. As the oceanography forcing can be non-synchronised on either side of the strait, the resulting net currents through the strait may appear chaotic. We apply these findings to the net circulation through the Bohai Strait in China using local wind, remote-sensing data of currents and sea level, and a hydrodynamic model. The net currents through the Bohai Strait were episodic. They were largest during winter storms when the wind generated a cyclonic coastal current in the northern Yellow Sea that flowed across the width of the Bohai Strait. Like the Luzon Strait, this current meandered and a branch of the current intruded into the northern Bohai Strait along the deeper channel. The wind set-up in the Bohai Sea and the wind-driven longshore current in the southern Bohai Sea generated a seaward flow through the southern Bohai Strait, somewhat like in Irbe Strait. As with the straits of the Seto Inland Sea, stagnation occurred in some embayments. As in the Torres Strait, the islands in the southern Bohai Strait retarded the net flow and increased the width of the outflow zone. These flows were also modulated at very long periods (~60 days) by long waves in the Yellow Sea, possibly generated by meandering of the Kuroshio Current that created an additional sea level slope through the strait. The transit time in the Bohai Strait was 60 and 10 days, respectively, during calm weather and winter storms. The residence time in the Bohai Sea was estimated to be about 1.68 years by the LOICZ model and 1.56 years by the hydrodynamic model, and the influence of the river runoff, including the Yellow River, was negligible.

Item ID: 38442
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1096-0015
Keywords: straits, flushing, sea level, currents, tides, wind
Funders: Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS)
Projects and Grants: CAS Strategic Priority Research Program, Grant No. XDA11020401, CAS Key Deployment Project, Grant No. KZZD-EW-14, CAS Grant No. 2013T2Z0033
Date Deposited: 24 Apr 2015 04:13
FoR Codes: 04 EARTH SCIENCES > 0405 Oceanography > 040503 Physical Oceanography @ 100%
SEO Codes: 88 TRANSPORT > 8802 Water Transport > 880201 Coastal Sea Freight Transport @ 50%
88 TRANSPORT > 8802 Water Transport > 880202 International Sea Freight Transport (excl. Live Animal Transport) @ 50%
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