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Gravity Current Dynamics and Entrainment - A Process Study Based on Observations in the Arkona Basin

Journal article
Authors Lars Arneborg
V. Fiekas
L. Umlauf
H. Burchard
Published in journal of physical oceanography
Volume 37
Pages 2094-2113
Publication year 2007
Published at Department of Earth Sciences
Pages 2094-2113
Language en
Subject categories Oceanography


A 19 hour time series of dissipation, stratification and horizontal velocities has been obtained for a dense gravity current flowing into the Arkona Basin in the western Baltic Sea. The observations are compared with one-dimensional, quasi-steady theory, where the gravity component in the flow direction is balanced by bottom friction, while that in the cross flow direction is balanced by the Coriolis force. The observations deviate from the theory in that the bottom shear stress is more than twice as large as that required to balance the gravity. Several reasons for this discrepancy are discussed. A 1D turbulence model is also compared with the observations. Profiles of velocity, stratification and dissipation rates generally show similar variations with depth as the observations, although the observed dissipation rates are somewhat larger than the modeled and the modeled transverse velocities are much larger than the observed. Subsequently, the model is used to investigate the variation of the entrainment parameter for a large range of Ekman and Froude numbers. Within the modeled parameter space, the entrainment parameter can be collapsed onto a curve that is an increasing function of both the Froude and the Ekman numbers. There is one puzzling result of the observations that differs from the model results and earlier observations, namely that the observed entrainment rate increases dramatically during the observation period, where the Froude number decreases slightly. Some reasons for this increase are discussed.

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