National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2007

Tidal energy in the Bering Sea

Foreman, M.G.G., P.F. Cummins, J.Y. Cherniawsky, and P.J. Stabeno

J. Mar. Res., 64(6), 797–818, doi: 10.1357/002224006779698341 (2006)

Tidal harmonics computed from TOPEX/POSEIDON altimetry are assimilated into a barotropic, finite element model of the Bering Sea whose accuracy is evaluated though comparisons with independent bottom pressure gauges. The model is used to estimate energy fluxes through each of the Aleutian Passes and Bering Strait and to construct an energy budget for the major tidal constituents. The finite element model does not conserve mass locally and this is shown to give rise to an additional term in the energy budget whose contribution is significant for the prior model, but which is reduced substantially with the assimilation technique. Though the M2 constituent is estimated to have the largest net energy flux into the Bering Sea at 31.2 GW, the K1 constituent is not far behind at 24.9 GW and the sum for the three largest diurnal constituents is found to be greater than the sum for the largest three semi-diurnals. Samalga and Amutka Passes are found to be the primary conduits for influx of semi-diurnal energy while Amchitka Pass is the primary conduit for diurnal energy. A significant portion of the diurnal energy is seen to exist in the form of continental shelf waves trapped along Bering Sea slopes. The effect of the 18.6-year nodal modulation is estimated and found to cause basin-wide variations of approximately 19% in the net incoming tidal energy flux. Larger variations in the dissipation occur in subregions that are strongly dominated by the diurnal constituents, such as Seguam Pass and south of Cape Navarin. These variations should correlate with tidal mixing and may have important consequences for biological productivity, similar to those previously found for Pacific halibut recruitment (Parker et al., 1995) and shrimp, capelin, herring, cod, and haddock biomass in the Barents Sea (Yndestad, 2004).

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