The coupled estuarine-shelf response of a river-dominated system during the transition from low to high discharge Academic Article uri icon


  • 2015. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved. Opportunistic observations captured the coupled estuarine-shelf interactions as the Alabama coastal region transitioned from a period of low to flood river discharge conditions. The period of focus was 18 February to 10 April 2011 during which time a combination of in situ (water level, salinity and velocity) and remote sensing (ocean color) data provided information on the estuarine and shelf environment prior to, during, and post a major river discharge event that captured a relatively rare spatially synoptic view of the structural evolution of a discharge plume in response to changing forcing conditions. The discharge event generated major changes in the hydrographic conditions and forcing responses within the estuary and on the shelf. The resulting surface advected plume was observed for approximately two weeks, during which time the observed differences in shelf circulation were directly linked to the discharge plume and a plume bulge with anticyclonic circulation was identified at times throughout the event. The plume was exposed to a range of wind conditions which modulated the surface structure: downwelling winds elongated the plume structure and upwelling winds reversed and widened the plume. The influence of wind forcing, even during very low wind (<3.75 m s-1) and large outflow (7000 m3 s-1) conditions, was apparent, as a result of the shallow and wide characteristics of the plume. Anticyclonic bulge regions have only been identified in a few systems and the occurrence of this feature on the Alabama shelf has significant implications on transport and fate of river discharge in this region.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 0.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Dzwonkowski, B., Park, K., & Collini, R.

citation count

  • 24

complete list of authors

  • Dzwonkowski, Brian||Park, Kyeong||Collini, Renee

publication date

  • September 2015