Three-dimensional salt dynamics in well-mixed estuaries: Influence of estuarine convergence, coriolis, and bathymetry

Xiaoyan Wei, Mohit Kumar, Henk Schuttelaars

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

A semianalytical three-dimensional model is set up to dynamically calculate the coupled water motion and salinity for idealized well-mixed estuaries and prognostically investigate the influence of each physical mechanism on the residual salt transport. As a study case, a schematized estuary with an exponentially converging width and a channel–shoal structure is considered. The temporal correlation between horizontal tidal velocities and tidal salinities is the dominant process for the landward residual salt transport. The residual salt transport induced by residual circulation is locally significant, but the induced salt transport integrated over the cross section is small. The impacts of the estuarine geometry, Coriolis force, and bathymetry on the salt dynamics are studied using three dedicated experiments, in which the impact of each of these factors is studied separately. To assess the impact of width convergence, a convergent estuary without bathymetric variations or Coriolis force is considered. In this experiment, the temporal correlation between tidal velocities and salinities is the only landward salt transport process. In the second experiment, Coriolis effects are included. This results in a significant residual salt transport cell due to the advection of the tidally averaged salinity by residual circulation, with salt imported into the estuary from the left side and exported on the right (looking seaward). In the last experiment, a lateral channel–shoal structure is included while the Coriolis effects are excluded. This results in a significant landward salt transport through the deeper channel and a seaward salt transport over the shoals due to the advection of the tidally averaged salinity by residual circulation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1843-1871
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Physical Oceanography
Volume47
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Keywords

  • Baroclinic flows
  • Density currents
  • Mass fluxes/transport
  • Baroclinic models
  • Coupled models

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