Circulation and dispersion in a cancellate coast: The rivers, bays and estuaries of central Maine Academic Article uri icon


  • The glacially carved central coast of Maine is incised by river systems with interconnecting channels, offshore-trending submarine ridges, and narrow passages between nearshore islands and headlands. The tidal range exceeds 3 m, leading to complex and vigorous circulation patterns with strong flows in narrow channels, near river mouths, and between islands. The spongiform coastal morphology allows enhanced exchange between offshore waters, estuaries and internecine bays, resulting in rapid dispersal of nutrients, larvae and contaminants throughout the region. A fine-grid numerical circulation model has been used to examine the influences of the tides, river flows and winds on the dispersion of lobster larvae and pollutants in the nearshore and riverine environment. This paper describes the model application, presents a few salient features of the circulation patterns, and examines some implications for the coastal environment. For example, under realistic tides and variable southwest summer winds, about 80% of neutral near-surface particles introduced near the offshore islands (a proxy for stage IV lobster larvae from offshore sources) remain within a few km of the islands over a two-week period. On the other hand, a persistent, periodic sea breeze can remove more than two-thirds of the particles from the domain over the same period. Tidal mixing disperses pollutants entering the upper Kennebec River to the offshore and through internecine passages in about one week. 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Brooks, D. A.

citation count

  • 4

complete list of authors

  • Brooks, David A

publication date

  • January 2009