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San Francisco Bay Basic Tide Model

Detailed Description

San Francisco Bay is one of the most geographically expansive estuaries on the U.S. West Coast. The Bay supports the largest extent of tidal marsh in California yet is highly urbanized and impacted by numerous anthropogenic activities such as channel dredging, freshwater diversions, watershed modifications, urban run-off, ship traffic, exotic species introductions, and land reclamation (Barnard et al. 2013). The mixed semi-diurnal tide regime has a range of nearly 2 meters at the Golden Gate, the only inlet where ocean and estuarine water exchange occurs. Due in large part to bathymetric and geographic variations, water level variations and tidal flow patterns are complex. While many scientific studies and management questions are intrinsically linked to in-Bay tidal currents and water levels, they are often limited by the need for tools to assess tidal influences at specific study sites.

This web page provides a link to files that may be used to run a basic depth-averaged (2DH) Deltares ( Delft3D version 4.00.01 astronomic tide model for San Francisco Bay. It was developed with the primary aim of assessing water level fluctuations and flow conditions in the vicinity of the Golden Gate (Elias and Hansen 2013). The FLOW model consists of six 2-way coupled curvilinear domains; grid resolution varies and is finest in the vicinity of the Golden Gate where it is approximately 50m by 50m. Tides are simulated with amplitudes and phases of 12 locally dominant tidal constituents (M2, S2, N2, K2, K1, O1, P1, Q1, MF, MM, M4, MS4, and MN4) along the open ocean boundary. These files are provided ‘as is’ with the aim of promoting scientific advancement in the understanding of San Francisco Bay processes.

Download the model (1.6 MB)


Elias, E., Hansen, J., and Erikson, L.H. 2013. San Francisco Bay Basic Tide Model, doi: 10.5066/F7DN4330


Barnard, P.L., Eshleman, J.L., Erikson, L.H., Hanes, D.M., 2007. Coastal processes study at Ocean Beach, San Francisco, CA: summary of data collection 2004-2006. U.S. Geological Survey Open File Report 2007-1217. 165 pp.

Barnard, P.L., Hanes, D.M., Kvitek, R.G., Iampietro, P.J., 2006. Sand waves at the mouth of San Francisco Bay, California. U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Map 2006-2944, 5 map sheets.

Barnard, P.L., Jaffe, B.E., Schoellhamer, D.H., 2013. Preface for Special Issue of Marine Geology. Marine Geology Special Issue on Sediment Transport and Geomorphic Evolution in the San Francisco Bay Coastal System, 345, 1-2. doi: 10.1016/j.margeo.2013.09.010

Elias, E., and Hansen, J. 2012. Understanding processes controlling sediment transports at the mouth of a highly energetic inlet system (San Francisco Bay, CA). Marine Geology. doi: 10.1016/j.margeo.2012.07.003

Erikson, L., Wright, S., Elias, E., Hanes, D., Schoellhamer, D., and Largier, J. 2013. The use of modeling and suspended sediment concentration measurements for quantifying net suspended sediment transport through a large tidally dominated inlet. Marine Geology. doi: 10.1016/j.margeo.2013.06.001

Foxgrover, A.C., Dartnell, P., Jaffe, B.E., Takekawa, J.Y., Athearn, N.D., 2007. High-resolution bathymetry and topography of south San Francisco Bay, California: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Map 2987, 1 sheet.

Hansen, J.E., Barnard, P.L., 2010. Sub-weekly to interannual variability of a high-energy shoreline. Coastal Engineering 57, 959-972. doi: 10.1016/j.coastaleng.2010.05.011

Hansen, J.E., Elias, E., Barnard, P.L., 2013a. Changes in surfzone morphodynamics driven by multi-decadal contraction of a large ebb-tidal delta. Marine Geology 345, 221-234. doi: 10.1016/j.margeo.2013.07.005

Hansen, J.E., Elias, E., List, J.H., Erikson, L.H., Barnard, P.L., 2013b. Tidally influenced alongshore circulation at an inlet-adjacent shoreline. Continental Shelf Research 56, 26-38. doi: 10.1016/j.csr.2013.01.017

Jaffe, B.E., Foxgrover, A., 2006. Sediment deposition and erosion in south San Francisco Bay, California from 1956 to 2005. U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2006-1287.

NOAA National Geophysical Data Center, U.S. Coastal Relief Model


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