A two-dimensional, barotropic numerical model was employed to investigate the dynamics of tidal wave propagation in the South China Sea with a particular interest for its characteristics along the Mekong deltaic coast. The study indicates that tidal waves propagate from the Pacific Ocean into the South China Sea mainly through the Luzon Strait (LS), where the K 1 diurnal tide dominates due to a quarter wavelength resonance in this semi-enclosed basin, and that the incoming tidal waves from the Celebes open boundary play a more important role than those from the Andaman and Flores open boundaries. Previous studies have not explained why both adjacent seas including the South China Sea and the Gulf of Thailand are dominated by a diurnal tide, while a semidiurnal tide dominates along the eastern Mekong deltaic coast. By means of Green's law, continental shelf tidal resonance theory and standing wave theory, this study clarifies that the large amplified M 2 semidiurnal amplitude leading to a prevailing mixed semidiurnal tide is caused not only by the shoaling effect and the continental shelf oscillation resonance phenomenon but also by the position on the standing wave anti-node line. Moreover, the finding of radial tidal currents occurring along the southern Mekong estuarine coast has not been revealed in earlier studies. Based on a number of numerical, geometrically schematised experiments, we suggest that the interaction between the large amplified amplitude near the shoreline associated with the adjacent low amplitude band system, causing convex hydraulic gradients of tidal amplitude due to basin geometry as well as sloping topography, is the mechanism for developing these radial tidal current systems. The results reveal that wind monsoon climate could cause either damped or amplified tidal amplitudes around the Mekong deltaic coast of which approximately 2–3 cm is due to the changing atmospheric pressure, the tangential stress of wind over the water surface and wind enhanced bottom friction. Also, this study suggests that the tidal generating forces should be considered to achieve accurate model results depending on the geographical region of interest. Findings achieved from this study contribute to a deeper insight of tidal wave propagation from a deep ocean to a shallow flat basin similar to the South China Sea and its Mekong deltaic coast.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-98
Number of pages26
JournalEstuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science
Publication statusPublished - 2019

    Research areas

  • Mekong deltaic coast, Radial tidal currents, Resonance, Standing wave, Tidal wave propagation

ID: 51996562