This study presents an overview of the main hydrodynamic features of the Alderney Race strait based on in situ measurements and two-dimensional hydrodynamic model simulations. The strait encompasses a large amplitude of tidal properties (tidal range and tidal wave propagation) and particularly strong currents exceeding 5 m s−1 with associated counter currents and gyres. Variations in depth, sea bottom roughness, coastal topography and current orientation around the La Hague Cape provide access to a large variety of original hydrodynamic regimes. Some are revealed as locations with a 0.4 m drop in the mean sea level associated with strong average currents. A resonance effect associated with the offshore currents can also be observed close to the coasts. The ‘St Martin whistle’ occurs in a bay whose gyre centre oscillates with a reversal of the measured current every 5–7 min. The Alderney Race represents a particular area of interest for coastal hydrodynamic studies. The available in situ measurement datasets are rich with recordings of: sea levels; acoustic Doppler current profiler current profiles; surface radar currents; waves; dye experiments; surface and in-depth dissolved tracer surveys. Combined with hydrodynamic models, the complexity of this area can be further understood and knowledge of the hydrodynamic process and forcing parameters can be refined, which can be applied to other coastal areas.
This article is part of the theme issue ‘New insights on tidal dynamics and tidal energy harvesting in the Alderney Race’.