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College of Arts & Sciences
School of the Earth, Ocean and Environment

Alexander Yankovsky

Associate Professor
School of the Earth, Ocean & Environment

Phone Number: 803-777-3550
Office: EWS 308
Research Areas: Coastal Processes
Research Summary:

My primary research interests are focused on the flow dynamics on continental shelves, in marginal seas and in estuaries. This includes wind- and buoyancy-driven currents, transient and time-variable processes, long waves and wave-current interaction, mesoscale variability, and adjustment of waves and currents to topographic and coastline features. My research comprises numerical modeling and the analysis of observational data.

Current Research Projects

- Plume dynamics under increased sediment discharge following floods. South Carolina suffered from record rainfalls in October 2015 resulting in massive erosion and flooding, dam breaching and overtopping of lakes and ponds. We conducted repeated shipboard surveys off Winyah Bay, SC in October and November, 2015, to trace the fate of floodwaters in the coastal ocean. We now utilize these observations to study the dynamics of coastal plumes under high freshwater and sediment discharge conditions affected by light to moderate winds on the shelf. I collaborate with Dr. George Voulgaris (USC) on this project.   

 - Generation of internal waves by semidiurnal Kelvin waves propagating over wide continental shelves varying alongshore. In many areas of the World Ocean, barotropic tides exist in the form of long wave modes trapped by the coastline. Typically, the most energetic is the zero, fundamental mode, propagating with the coast on its right (left) in the Northern (Southern) hemisphere. This zero mode resembles a Kelvin wave when the shelf is narrow. For wide shelves, the semidiurnal fundamental mode attains properties of an edge wave. When a tidal wave encounters alongshore changes of the shelf width (that is, narrowing or widening shelf), the transition from one wave type to another can cause the wave energy scattering into other wave modes including internal waves radiating offshore. We conduct a modeling study which delineates this mechanism for the internal wave generation in different areas of the World Ocean. I collaborate with Dr. Maarten Buijsman (Univ. Southern Mississippi) on this research.

- Buoyancy-driven dynamics in the Labrador Sea and in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. Dynamics in semi-enclosed basins along the northeastern boundary of North America is strongly affected by buoyancy forcing, both in the form of freshwater input from rivers, melting sea ice and glacier ice, as well as dense water formation during the winter convection. This study combines the analysis of observational data collected by Bedford Institute of Oceanography (BIO), and a numerical modeling. The primary goal is to better understand pathways, mixing and the ultimate fate of freshwater in those basins, and to delineate current trends in freshwater balance related to global change. I collaborate with Dr. Igor Yashayaev and other researchers from BIO on this project.


GEOL/MSCI 784 Geophysical Fluid Dynamics (spring, even years)

GEOL/MSCI 581 Estuarine Oceanography (spring, odd years)

MSCI 305 Ocean Data Analysis (fall, every year)

Recent Publications 

- Zhang, T., and A. E. Yankovsky, 2016: On the nature of cross-isobath energy fluxes in topographically-modified barotropic semidiurnal Kelvin waves. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 121, 3058-3074, doi: 10.1002/2015JC011617.

- Yankovsky, A. E., and S. K. Iyer, 2015: Propagation of subtidal sea level oscillations in the river channel: A case study of the St. Johns River, Florida, USA. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 157, 69-78.

- Yankovsky, A. E., and I. Yashayaev, 2014: Surface buoyant plumes from melting icebergs in the Labrador Sea. Deep-Sea Research I, 91, 1-9.

- Yankovsky, A. E., R. Torres, L. M. Torres-Garcia, and K. Jeon, 2012: Interaction of tidal and fluvial processes in the transition zone of the Santee River, SC, USA. Estuaries and Coasts, 35, 1500-1509.

- Jia, Y., and A. E. Yankovsky, 2012: The impact of ambient stratification on freshwater transport in a river plume. Journal of Marine Research, 70, 69-92.