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Samuel Kastner

Graduate Research Assistant




2000-present and while at APL-UW

The influence of wind and waves on spreading and mixing in the Fraser River plume

Kastner, S.E., A.R. Horner-Devine, and J. Thomson, "The influence of wind and waves on spreading and mixing in the Fraser River plume," J. Geophys. Res., 123, 6818-6840, doi:10.1029/2018JC013765, 2018.

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5 Sep 2018

This study uses drifter‐based observations to investigate the role of wind and waves on spreading and mixing in the Fraser River plume. Local winter wind patterns commonly result in two distinct forcing conditions, moderate winds from the southeast (SE) and strong winds from the northwest (NW). We examine how these patterns influence the spreading and mixing dynamics of the plume. Under SE winds, the plume thins, spreads, and turns to the right (north) upon exiting the river mouth. Mixing is initially intense in the region of maximum spreading, but it is short‐lived. Under NW winds, which oppose the rightward tendency of the plume, the plume remains thicker, narrower, and flows directly across the Strait with a lateral front on its northern side. Mixing is initially lower than under SE forcing but persists further across the Strait. A Lagrangian stream‐normal momentum balance shows that wind and interfacial stress under NW conditions compress the sea surface height anomaly formed by the river discharge and guide the flow across the Strait. This reconfiguration changes spreading and mixing dynamics of the plume; plume spreading, which drives intense mixing under SE winds, is shut down under NW winds, and mixing rates are consequently much lower. Despite the initially lower mixing rates, the region of active mixing extends further under NW winds, resulting in higher net mixing. These results highlight that the wind, which is often a primary cause of increased plume mixing, can also significantly influence mixing by changing the geometry of the plume.

Acoustics Air-Sea Interaction & Remote Sensing Center for Environmental & Information Systems Center for Industrial & Medical Ultrasound Electronic & Photonic Systems Ocean Engineering Ocean Physics Polar Science Center