Adriatic seiche decay and energy loss to the Mediterranean

Cerovecki, I, Orlic M, Hendershott MC.  1997.  Adriatic seiche decay and energy loss to the Mediterranean. Deep-Sea Research Part I-Oceanographic Research Papers. 44:2007-2029.

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model, oscillations, sea, shelf


A salient feature of sea level records from the Adriatic Sea is the frequent occurrence of energetic seiches of period about 21 h. Once excited by a sudden wind event, such seiches often persist for days. They lose energy either to friction within the Adriatic, or by radiation through Otranto Strait into the Mediterranean. The free decay time of the dominant (lowest mode) seiche was determined from envelopes of bandpassed sea level residuals from three locations (Bakar, Split and Dubrovnik) along the Croatian coast during twelve seiche episodes between 1963 and 1986 by taking into consideration only time intervals when the envelopes decreased exponentially in time, when the modelled effects of along-basin winds were smaller than the error of estimation of decay time from the envelopes and when across-basin winds were small. The free decay time thus obtained was 3.2+/-0.5 d. This value is consonant with the observed width of the spectral peak. The decay caused by both bottom friction and radiation was included in a one dimensional variable cross section shallow water model of the Adriatic. Bottom friction is parameterized by the coefficient k appearing in the linearized bottom stress term k rho(0)u (where u is the along-basin velocity and eo the fluid density). The coefficient k is constrained by values obtained from linearization of the quadratic bottom stress law using estimates of near bottom currents associated with the seiche, with wind driven currents, with tides and with wind waves. Radiation is parameterized by the coefficient a appearing in the open strait boundary condition zeta = auh/c (where zeta is sea level, h is depth and c is phase speed). This parameterization of radiation provides results comparable to allowing the Adriatic to radiate into an unbounded half plane ocean. Repeated runs of the model delineate the dependence of model free seiche decay time on k and a, and these plus the estimates of k allow estimation of a. The principle conclusions of this work are as follows. (1) Exponential decay of seiche amplitude with time does not necessarily guarantee that the observed decay is free of wind influence. (2) Winds blowing across the Adriatic may be of comparable importance to winds blowing along the Adriatic in influencing apparent decay of seiches; across-basin winds are probably coupled to the longitudinal seiche on account of the strong along-basin variability of across-basin winds forced by Croatian coastal orography. (3) The free decay time of the 21.2 h Adriatic seiche is 3.2+/-0.5 d. (4) A one dimensional shallow water model of the seiche damped by bottom stress represented by Godin's (1988) approximation to the quadratic bottom friction law rho(0)C(D)u\u\ using the commonly accepted drag coefficient C-D = 0.0015 and quantitative estimates of bottom currents associated with wind driven currents, tides and wind waves, as well as with the seiche itself with no radiation gives a damping time of 9.46 d; radiation sufficient to give the observed damping time must then account for 66% of the energy loss per period. But independent estimates of bottom friction for Adriatic wind driven currents and inertial oscillations, as well as comparisons between quadratic law bottom stress and directly measured bottom stress, all suggest that the quadratic law with C-D = 0.0015 substantially underestimates the bottom stress. Based on these studies, a more appropriate value of the drag coefficient is at least C-D = 0.003. In this case, bottom friction with no radiation leads to a damping time of 4.73 d; radiation sufficient to give the observed damping time then accounts for 32% of the energy loss per period. (C) 1998 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.