Ocean Dynamics

, Volume 65, Issue 1, pp 77–92 | Cite as

The role of density gradients on tidal asymmetries in the German Bight

  • Emil V. StanevEmail author
  • Rahma Al-Nadhairi
  • Arnoldo Valle-Levinson


The dynamics of the German Bight associated with river plumes and fresh water intrusions from tidal flats have been studied with numerical simulations. The horizontal and vertical patterns of the M2, M4 and M6 tides revealed complex distortions along the bathymetric channels connecting the coast and the open sea. A major focus was on the surface-to-bottom change in tidal asymmetries, which provides a major control on draining the tidal flats around the Elbe and Weser River mouths. Comparisons between baroclinic and barotropic experiments demonstrated that the estuarine gravitational circulation is responsible for pronounced differences in surface and bottom asymmetries. These differences could be considered as a basic control mechanism for sediment dynamics. The most prominent area of tidal distortions, manifested by a delay of the tidal wave, was located between the estuarine turbidity maximum and the estuarine mouth north of Cuxhaven. This area was characterized by the strongest periodic convergence and divergence of the flow and by the largest salinity gradients. The enhancement of the gravitational circulation occurred during the transition between spring and neap tides. The large-scale dynamics and small-scale topographic features could impact the sediment distribution as there was a marked interplay in the channels between stratification and turbulence. Also an explanation has been given for the mechanisms supporting the existence of a mud area (Schlickgebiet) south of Helgoland Island, associated with trapping suspended particular matter.


Regions of fresh water influence Overtides Estuarine circulation 



The forcing data have been provided by the German Weather Service. The bathymetric and river run-off data were provided by the Bundesamt für Seeschifffahrt und Hydrographie (BSH). Thanks are due to Joanna Staneva for making the model setup available to authors, Xi Lu and Benjamin Jacob for the plotting support and Johannes Schulz-Stellenfleth for the useful discussions. We thank the two anonymous reviewers for their comments. 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. This work has been carried out in the frame of German COSYNA project and profited largely from the EU JERICO project AVL acknowledges support from the US NSF project OCE-1332718.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

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

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