EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

The evolution of the tidal asymmetry in a river networks system

Wei Zhang and Shiyu Bao
Wei Zhang and Shiyu Bao
  • State Key Laboratory of Hydrology-Water Resources and Hydraulic Engineering, Hohai University, Nanjing, China (

Tidal asymmetry in deltas is caused by both the intrinsic asymmetry, resulting from the combination of astronomical tides, and by nonlinear tidal interactions that occur in shallow water. In recent years, nonlinear tidal interactions in deltas have become more complex due to the influence of topographic changes. The relative importance of these sources of tidal asymmetry in delta channel networks, partially due to the limitations of classical harmonic analysis (HA) in hindcasting nonstationary tides, has remained poorly studied. We take the Pearl River Delta (PRD) as an example to examine the spatial-temporal variations of tides and tidal asymmetry in deltas. For hydrological data from 14 stations in the PRD spanning the period1961-2012, the non-stationary harmonic analysis method (NS-TIDE) is used. The spatiotemporal variation of multiple sources of tidal asymmetry is quantified by a skewness metric, revealing the development of alternative sources of tidal asymmetry develop in the delta subject to study. As tides propagate into delta channel networks, analytical results show the development of tides becoming increasingly more asymmetric. In the course of the 1990s and 2000s, tidal skewness has decreased in the parts of the PRD where the water depth varies greatly, indicating that the tidal asymmetry has reduced. Our findings demonstrate that deepening of the channel system is associated with a reduction of the flood-dominant tidal asymmetry. Deeper channels tend to be more often ebb-dominant than shallow areas. Due to extensive sand excavation, the abrupt changes in bathymetry in the delta are likely to be responsible for the observed spatial variations in tidal response that reduce the flood-dominant tidal asymmetry in this region.

How to cite: Zhang, W. and Bao, S.: The evolution of the tidal asymmetry in a river networks system, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-11127,, 2021.


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