Ocean Dynamics

, Volume 64, Issue 7, pp 951–968 | Cite as

Tidal wave transformations in the German Bight

  • Emil V. StanevEmail author
  • Rahma Al-Nadhairi
  • Joanna Staneva
  • Johannes Schulz-Stellenfleth
  • Arnoldo Valle-Levinson


Mesoscale and submesoscale dynamics associated with tidal wave transformations were addressed in the German Bight using numerical simulations. Tidal gauge and velocity observations in several locations were used to validate the numerical model. A downscaling approach included analysis of simulations with horizontal resolutions of 1, 0.4, and 0.2 km. It was shown that the modified tidal wave lost most of its energy after reflection or refraction over the eastern part of the German Bight. Energy loss resulted in a pronounced change of the wave’s spectral composition and generation of overtides. Tidal oscillations were modified by mesoscale processes associated with bathymetric channels. Semidiurnal and quarterdiurnal tides revealed very different spatial patterns. The former were aligned with the bathymetric channels, while the latter were rather “patchy” and had about half the spatial scales. In numerous areas around the bathymetric channels, the major axis of the M4 ellipses was normal or at some angle with the major axis of the M2 ellipses. Thus, higher harmonics developed “orthogonal” patterns that drove secondary circulations. Moreover, the ratio between spring and neap tidal amplitudes was relatively low in the Wadden Sea, showing reduced sensitivity of this very shallow area to fortnightly tidal variations. It was demonstrated that simulated hydrodynamics patterns help explain the physical mechanism shaping the median grain size distribution in the German Bight.


Tidal spectroscopy Mesoscale dynamics Bathymetric channels Tidal distortion 



We are grateful to both referees for their comments on the first draft. Forcing data have been provided by the German Weather Service. The bathymetric and river runoff data were provided by the Bundesamt für Seeschifffahrt und Hydrographie (BSH). Thanks to Alex Port for preparing the gridded model topography. BSH provided also the river runoff data. We acknowledge the use of Rapid Response imagery from the Land Atmosphere Near-real time Capability for EOS (LANCE) system operated by the NASA/GSFC/Earth Science Data and Information System (ESDIS) with funding provided by NASA/HQ. AVL acknowledges support from the US NSF project OCE-0825876.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Emil V. Stanev
    • 1
    Email author
  • Rahma Al-Nadhairi
    • 1
  • Joanna Staneva
    • 1
  • Johannes Schulz-Stellenfleth
    • 1
  • Arnoldo Valle-Levinson
    • 2
  1. 1.Helmholtz-Zentrum GeesthachtGeesthachtGermany
  2. 2.University of FloridaGainesvilleUSA

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