Date of Award

Summer 2014


© 2014 Barbara Fortier

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Marine Sciences


Marine Science

First Advisor

Charles Tilburg

Second Advisor

Stephen Zeeman

Third Advisor

James Quinlan


This study focused on the freshwater discharge plume from the Saco River in southwestern Maine to determine the mechanisms responsible for the largest impacts on the near-field dynamics in this region. We examined the forcing factors that tended to increase the plume's spatial extent upshelf of the river mouth. Salinity, temperature, and density data were collected during cruises from May through November 2010 and by two surface moorings deployed upshelf of the Saco River mouth. We found a distinct variation in the latitude of the upshelf boundary of the plume during and after periods of high discharge. Furthermore, we found that the upshelf boundary of the plume responds to northeastward winds by thinning and moving further upshelf of the Saco River mouth and to southwestward winds by deepening and moving closer to the point of discharge. These movements can affect coastal ocean salinity levels and result in the transport of suspended pollutants and other materials to areas some distance from the point of discharge, causing harmful effects.


Master's thesis