On the Stokes' drift induced by tidal motions in a wide estuary

P P G Dyke

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This paper presents a simple analytical model of tidal motion in a wide estuary. The essential feature of the model is its ability to include both the Coriolis acceleration and, to a limited extent, vertical stratification of density, It is shown that the Coriolis acceleration is not important when considering the depth integrated or barotropic flow, but it is important when considering baroclinic motions. Further, arguments are presented to show that the Stokes' drift is a fair representation of tidally induced redidual flow, and that barotropic Stokes' drift on the kind of length scales appropriate to an estuary are dominated by friction. However, when considering depth dependent flow (the baroclinic mode), and inviscid Stokes' drift is present having a typical magnitude of 2 cm s-1. The flow patterns for this drift in a straight sided estuary shows an equal and opposite flow along each bank, with the flow itself exhibiting a periodic structure (i.e. reversals) at well difined intervals down the estuary. The Stokes' drift along the axis of symmetry of the estuary is zero. Applications of this model to real estuaries are also discussed. © 1980 Academic Press Inc. (London) Ltd.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-25
Number of pages9
JournalEstuarine and Coastal Marine Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1980


  • estuaries
  • mass transport
  • mathematical models
  • tides
  • vertical stratification


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