Local and remote response of the North Sea dynamics to morphodynamic changes in the Wadden Sea


The response of the tidal system in the southern North Sea to morphodynamic changes was investigated in a modelling study using fine resolution bathymetric observations available for 1982–2011. The Semi-implicit Cross-scale Hydroscience Integrated System Model (SCHISM) was set up for the different sets of bathymetries. One set of bathymetry was compiled from a large number of bathymetric measurements over many years, while the other two reflected bathymetry state in the area of Wadden Sea during 2000 and 2011, respectively. The temporal and spatial evolution of bathymetry was dominated by migration of tidal channels. The M4 tide showed larger sensitivity to bathymetric change in the Wadden Sea than the M2 tide, whereas the structure of the latter remained rather robust. The largest change of the tidal wave due to the differences in bathymetries was located off the North Frisian Wadden Sea. Traces of changes were also found far away from the regions of their origin because the tidal waves in the North Sea propagate the local disturbances basin-wide. This illustrated an efficient physical mechanism of teleconnectivity, i.e. effecting the local responses to the larger-scale or remote change of ocean bottom caused by erosion and deposition. The tidal distortion resulting from the relatively small bathymetric changes was substantial, particularly in the coastal zone. This is a manifestation of the nonlinear tidal transformation in shallow oceans and is crucial for the sediment transport and the morphodynamic feedback, because of the altered tidal asymmetry.
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