Quantification of Tidal Asymmetry and Its Nonstationary Variations

Leicheng Guo, Zhengbing Wang, Ian Townend, Qing He

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13 Citations (Scopus)
52 Downloads (Pure)


Tidal wave deformation and tidal asymmetry widely occur in tidal estuaries and lagoons. Tidal asymmetry has been intensively studied because of its controlling role on residual sediment transport and large‐scale morphological evolution. There are several methods available to characterize tidal asymmetry prompting the need for an overview of their applicability and shortcomings. In this work we provide a brief review and evaluation of two methods, namely, the harmonic method and the statistical method. The latter comprises several statistical measures that estimate the probability density function and various forms of skewness. We find that both the harmonic and statistical methods are effective and have complementary advantages. The harmonic method is applicable to predominantly semidiurnal or diurnal regimes, while the statistical methods can be used in mixed tidal regimes. Assisted by harmonic data, a modified skewness measure can isolate the contribution of different tidal interactions on net tidal asymmetry and also reveal its subtidal variations. The application of the skewness measure to nonstationary river tides reveals stronger tidal asymmetry during spring tides than neap tides, and the nonlinear effects of river discharges on tidal asymmetry in the upper and lower regions of long estuaries.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)773-787
Number of pages15
JournalJournal Of Geophysical Research-Oceans
Issue number1
Early online date2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019


  • harmonic
  • residual sediment transport
  • skewness
  • tidal asymmetry


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