The time scales on which river inflows disperse in the coastal ocean are relevant to a host of biogeochemical and environmental processes. These time scales are examined in a modeling study of the Hudson River plume on its entry to the New York Bight (NYB). Constituent-oriented age and residence-time theory is applied to compute two time scales: mean age, which is calculated from the ratio of two model tracers, and residence time, which is calculated using the adjoint of the tracer conservation equation.
Spatial and temporal variability associated with river discharge and wind is investigated. High river discharge lowers surface water age and shortens residence time in the apex of the NYB. Easterly winds increase surface water age and extend the duration waters along the Long Island coast remain in the NYB apex. Southerly winds increase age along the New Jersey coast but drive a decrease in age of offshore surface waters and prolong the time that surface waters close to the New Jersey coast stay in the NYB apex. Residence time along the Long Island coast is high in spring and summer because of the retention of water north of the Hudson shelf valley.
Patterns of modeled surface water age and an age proxy computed from the ratio of satellite-measured irradiance in two channels show qualitative agreement. A least squares fit gives a statistically significant empirical relationship between the band ratio and modeled mean age for NYB waters.