The total share of small rivers in the influxes of fluvial water and suspended matter to the world ocean is estimated at between 25 and 40%. On a regional scale, this contribution can be even more significant for many coastal regions. In this chapter, we show that dynamics of small river plumes is significantly different from that of plumes generated by large rivers. Spatial structure of small plumes is generally characterized by sharper horizontal and vertical gradients. As a result, small plumes exhibit more energetic temporal variability in response to external forcing. In this chapter, we address several dynamical features typical for small plumes. We describe and discuss the response of small plumes to wind forcing and river discharge variability, the interaction between neighboring small plumes, and the generation of high-frequency internal waves in coastal ocean by small rivers. We also substantiate the Lagrangian approach to numerical modeling of small river plumes.
Part of the book: Estuaries and Coastal Zones