What is it about?

High resolution numerical simulations show that strong tidal flows modulate the flow characteristics in the vicinity of islands. For example, it can change the frequency of occurrence of low pressure zones behind the island. We present high-resolution three-dimensional simulations of the interaction of a tidally modulated current with a model submerged hill where the magnitude of the tidal flow relative to the steady current is varied. Results show that relatively small tidal currents can modify the process of eddy formation in the wake of the obstacle, changing the eddy shedding frequency from its natural value. The shedding rate decreases as tidal magnitude is increased until the interval synchronizes to twice the tidal period. We find significant loss of kinetic energy in the wake of the obstacle, along its sides and near its crest, with maximum values occurring when the peak tidal current coincides with the steady flow. Energy dissipation increases sharply with increasing tidal current magnitude.

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Why is it important?

The flow near an island is crucial for its climatology and governs activities such as fishing in its vicinity. Strong tidal oscillations introduce changes to these flow patterns, thereby affecting the economics of voyages.


Numerical tools are gaining robustness in ocean flow predictions. It was a great opportunity for me to work on such cutting-edge high performance computing tools in oceanography. This article highlights the effect of tides on the flow patterns near islands, and the meaningful ways in which it alters the island climatology.

Pranav Suresh Puthan Naduvakkate
University of California San Diego

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This page is a summary of: Wake Vortices and Dissipation in a Tidally Modulated Flow Past a Three‐Dimensional Topography, Journal of Geophysical Research Oceans, August 2022, American Geophysical Union (AGU), DOI: 10.1029/2022jc018470.
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