The tidal regime of Shark Bay, Western Australia

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A non-linear hydrodynamic model is used to describe the tidal dynamics of Shark Bay, Western Australia. The model is forced by tidal elevations generated by M2, S2, K1 and O1 constituent data at the open boundaries. The absence of suitable boundary data required a ‘calibration’ of the boundary condition against the known constituent data from within the model domain. The model provides a good match to the available field data, and allows the surface-level and current response to be resolved over the entire domain. Due to a near quarter-wave resonance of the semi-diurnal tide along the eastern Hopeless Reach, which increases the semi-diurnal tide by a factor of 2, the tidal characteristics on each of the Reaches are different: on the eastern Hopeless Reach the tides are mainly semi-diurnal while on the western Freycinet Reach the tides are mainly diurnal. The tidal range is also higher along Hopeless Reach. Tidal harmonics, generated by non-linearity, are important in the shallow regions. The tidal wave is shown to propagate as a progressive wave into the Bay. Substantial phase-lag, attenuation and dissipation occur over the Faure Sill, a major shallow region of the eastern reach of the Bay. Non-linear generation of the M4 and MS4 tides is also significant in this region. Depth-averaged residual currents are presented, which show a tidally generated circulation that is enhanced in regions of complex topography. Estimates of tidal dissipation indicate that although the total dissipation is small on a global scale, the areal average is comparable with the Gulf of Carpentaria and approximately one-quarter of the value estimated for the Patagonian Shelf.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)725-735
JournalEstuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science
Issue number5-6,
Publication statusPublished - 2003


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