Sill dynamics and energy propagation in a jet type fjord

Mark Inall, Finlo Cottier, Tom P Rippeth, Colin Griffiths

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55 Citations (Scopus)


A detailed set of observations are presented of the tidal forcing and basin response of Loch Etive, a jet-type fjordic system on the west coast of Scotland. The characteristics of the tidal jet observed during a spring tide are discussed in detail, and with reference to laboratory studies of Baines and Hoinka (1985). Although the system is categorized as a jet basin during spring tides (when the mode-1 densimetric Froude number exceeds 1) and a wave basin during neap tides (when the Froude number remains below 1), a mode-1 baroclinic wave response is observed throughout the spring/neap cycle. Of the total incident tidal energy, 16% is lost from the barotropic tide. The ratio between loss to bottom friction, barotropic form drag and baroclinic wave drag is estimated to be 1:4:1 (1:4:3.3) at springs (neaps). Despite this, during a spring tide, a 20-m amplitude baroclinic mode-1 wave is observed to propagate along the full length of the basin at a speed of 0.2 m s(-1), somewhat slower than the predicted linear mode-1 phase speed. A hydrographic section supports the implication of the dissipation of the baroclinic wave towards the loch head. The stratification of the upper layers is observed to decrease rapidly landward of the 40-m isobath, a possible signature of enhanced diapycnal mixing in the shallower reaches towards the loch head.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)307-314
Number of pages8
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • Oceanography


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