High-resolution numerical modeling of tides in the western Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean Sea during the Holocene

TitleHigh-resolution numerical modeling of tides in the western Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean Sea during the Holocene
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsGriffiths SD, Peltier W R, Horton BP, Törnqvist TE
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research
Date Published10/2011

Tidal constituents and datums are computed on a high resolution grid of the northwestern Atlantic Ocean, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. A global model is used to determine tidal parameters on a grid with a nominal resolution of 800 × 800. The global model includes self-attraction and loading, drag in shallow marginal seas, and internal tide drag in the deep ocean. Simulations are performed at 1000 year intervals during the Holocene (10,000 calibrated years before present (10 ka)) in combination with changes in bathymetry and coastline location derived from a glacial isostatic adjustment model. The global model results are then used to force a regional barotropic tidal model. The regional model uses an unstructured finite element grid, with very high resolution at the coastline. The model results reveal significant variations in tidal constituent amplitudes throughout the Holocene. In the northwestern Atlantic, semi-diurnal components show a strong amplification at around 9 ka while in the Gulf of Mexico, the response is much more muted. Variations in diurnal tidal parameters are found to be less significant than semi-diurnal parameters throughout the model domain. Changes in tidal range, of great relevance to changes in relative sea level (RSL), are also investigated throughout the Holocene. The overall structure is similar to the patterns observed in the M2 tide, with peak increases of 200–300%, relative to present-day, being observed along the east coast of the United States from 9 to 8 ka. Finally, the high spatial resolution of the regional model allows for the investigation of tidal changes at spatial scales (e.g., individual bays) much smaller than in previous studies.