Ocean Dynamics

, Volume 56, Issue 3–4, pp 169–185 | Cite as

Measurements of Reynolds stress in a wind-driven lagoonal estuary

  • Anthony C. WhippleEmail author
  • Richard A. LuettichJr.
  • Harvey E. Seim
Original paper


Acoustic Doppler current profilers (ADCPs) have been used to measure Reynolds stresses in tidally dominated environments where wave action was minimal. In this paper, we examine observations from a microtidal estuary where the effects of wind stress and surface waves dominate the velocity variance. Reynolds stress measurements in this setting require a technique for addressing surface gravity wave contamination. We present here a method of reducing the effect of wave motion on Reynolds stresses by subtracting coincident observations along the axis of the ADCP beam. Linear wave theory is used to account for the attenuation of wave orbital velocities with depth. Using this method, Reynolds stress values are brought in line with those predicted by drag laws at the surface and bottom. The apparent Reynolds stress that is removed by the along-axis subtraction is shown to be largely due to the interaction of a slight tilt (1°) in the ADCP and the wave orbital velocity. During periods of stronger wind and waves, there is evidence of enhanced near-surface turbulence and momentum flux, presumably due to breaking waves. During these events, our calculated Reynolds stress magnitudes still appear reasonable, although the directions are suspect. We develop a diagnostic technique that clearly demarcates this region when it occurs. Coincident density profile measurements are used with the ADCP data to compute gradient Richardson numbers throughout the water column. Enhanced Reynolds stresses appear to correspond to Richardson numbers less than one.


Reynolds stress ADCP Wave separation Wind stress Turbulence 



The authors would like to thank the two anonymous reviewers whose input greatly improved this manuscript. We would like to acknowledge funding for this work from EPA grant R-82867701-0 and NSF grant OCE-0327056 and the SEACOOS program.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anthony C. Whipple
    • 1
    Email author
  • Richard A. LuettichJr.
    • 1
  • Harvey E. Seim
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of Marine Sciences, University of North Carolina at Chapel HillMorehead CityUSA
  2. 2.Department of Marine SciencesUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA

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