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© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 04 Mar 2019

Research article | 04 Mar 2019

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This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript is under review for the journal Ocean Science (OS).

A hydrodynamic model for Galveston Bay and the shelf in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico

Jiabi Du1, Kyeong Park1, Jian Shen2, Yinglong J. Zhang2, Xin Yu2, Fei Ye2, Zhengui Wang3, and Nancy N. Rabalais4 Jiabi Du et al.
  • 1Department of Marine Sciences, Texas A&M University at Galveston, Galveston, TX 7754, USA
  • 2Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William and Mary, Gloucester, VA 23062, USA
  • 3School of Marine Sciences, University of Maine, Orono, ME 04469, USA
  • 4Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803, USA

Abstract. We present a 3D unstructured-grid hydrodynamic model for the northwestern Gulf of Mexico that utilizes a high-resolution grid for the main estuarine systems along the Texas-Louisiana coast. This model, based on the Semi-implicit Cross-scale Hydroscience Integrated System Model (SCHISM) with hybrid horizontal and vertical grids, is driven by the observed river discharge, reanalysis atmospheric forcing, and open boundary conditions from the global models. The model reproduces well the temporal and spatial variation of observed water level, salinity, temperature, and current velocity both in Galveston Bay and on the shelf. We apply the validated model to examine the remote influence from large rivers, specifically the Mississippi and Atchafalaya rivers, on the salinity regime along the Texas coast. Numerical experiments reveal that the Mississippi-Atchafalaya discharge could significantly decrease the salinity on the inner shelf along the Texas coast and its influence highly depends on the wind field and the resulting shelf current. Winter wind tends to constrain the Mississippi-Atchafalaya water against the shore, forming a narrow lower-salinity band all the way to the southwestern Texas coast. Under summer wind, the influence of the discharge on salinity is limited to the upper Texas coast while extended offshore. The decrease in salinity at the mouth of Galveston Bay due to the Mississippi-Atchafalaya discharge leads to a decrease in horizontal density gradient, a weakened estuarine circulation inside the bay, a decrease in the salt flux, and a smaller estuarine-ocean exchange. We highlight the flexibility of the model that simulates not only estuarine dynamics and shelf-wide transport but also the interaction between them.

Jiabi Du et al.
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Jiabi Du et al.
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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
We here present our efforts to develop a model for the Galveston Bay (besides Houston, Texas), whose hydrodynamic condition is sensitive to the adjacent Texas-Louisiana shelf condition. The model is well configured and accurate in reproducing the hydrodynamics conditions inside the bay and over the shelf. Including the broad shelf allows us to easily take into account the profound influences from major neighboring rivers, such as the Mississippi-Atchafalaya rivers.
We here present our efforts to develop a model for the Galveston Bay (besides Houston, Texas),...