Environmental Fluid Mechanics

, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp 667–698 | Cite as

Hydrodynamics of a periodically wind-forced small and narrow stratified basin: a large-eddy simulation experiment

  • Hugo N. UlloaEmail author
  • George Constantinescu
  • Kyoungsik Chang
  • Daniel Horna-Munoz
  • Oscar Sepúlveda Steiner
  • Damien Bouffard
  • Alfred Wüest
Original Article


We report novel results of a numerical experiment designed for examining the basin-scale hydrodynamics that control the mass, momentum, and energy distribution in a daily wind-forced, small thermally-stratified basin. For this purpose, the 3-D Boussinesq equations of motion were numerically solved using large-eddy simulation (LES) in a simplified (trapezoidal) stratified basin to compute the flow driven by a periodic wind shear stress working at the free surface along the principal axis. The domain and flow parameters of the LES experiment were chosen based on the conditions observed during summer in Lake Alpnach, Switzerland. We examine the diurnal circulation once the flow becomes quasi-periodic. First, the LES results show good agreement with available observations of internal seiching, boundary layer currents, vertical distribution of kinetic energy dissipation and effective diffusivity. Second, we investigated the wind-driven baroclinic cross-shore exchange. Results reveal that a near-resonant regime, arising from the coupling of the periodic wind-forcing (\(T=24\) h) and the V2H1 basin-scale internal seiche (\(T_{{\mathrm{V2H1}}}\approx 24\) h), leads to an active cross-shore circulation that can fully renew near-bottom waters at diurnal scale. Finally, we estimated the bulk mixing efficiency, \(\varGamma\), of relevant zones, finding high spatial variability both for the turbulence intensity and the rate of mixing (\(10^{-3}\le \varGamma \le 10^{-1}\)). In particular, significant temporal variability along the slopes of the basin was controlled by the periodic along-slope currents resulting from the V2H1 internal seiche.


Large-eddy simulation Basin-scale circulation Resonance regime Cross-shore exchange 



This work has been developed during the sabbatical leave of George Constantinescu at EPFL. We acknowledge the financial contribution by the ENAC-EPFL Visiting Professor Program (Grant Number CF 0233). Discussions with Kraig B. Winters and Leo Maas on BBL dynamics and resonance regimes in stratified environments are gratefully acknowledged. We thank Javier Vidal for providing the Münnich’s model that resolve the normal modes in an arbitrary 2-D stratified basin. We also thank Tomás Trewhela for his useful observations and criticisms on this work. The manuscript also benefited from feedback from two anonymous reviewers. Additional information on the model can be obtained by contacting G. Constantinescu at


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hugo N. Ulloa
    • 1
    Email author
  • George Constantinescu
    • 2
  • Kyoungsik Chang
    • 3
  • Daniel Horna-Munoz
    • 2
    • 4
  • Oscar Sepúlveda Steiner
    • 1
  • Damien Bouffard
    • 5
  • Alfred Wüest
    • 1
    • 5
  1. 1.Physics of Aquatic Systems Laboratory, Margaretha Kamprad ChairÉcole Polytechnique Fédérale de LausanneLausanneSwitzerland
  2. 2.Civil and Environmental Engineering, IIHR-Hydroscience and EngineeringThe University of IowaIowa CityUSA
  3. 3.School of Mechanical EngineeringUniversity of UlsanUlsanSouth Korea
  4. 4.Environmental Engineering Department, Centro de Investigación y Tecnología del Agua (CITA)Universidad de Ingeniería y Tecnología (UTEC)Barranco, LimaPeru
  5. 5.Surface Waters - Research and ManagementEawag, Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and TechnologyKastanienbaumSwitzerland

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