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Effect of wind on the vertical circulation and stratification in the Volkerak Estuary
van de Kreeke, J.; Robaczewska, K. (1989). Effect of wind on the vertical circulation and stratification in the Volkerak Estuary. Neth. J. Sea Res. 23(3): 239-253
In: Netherlands Journal of Sea Research. Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ): Groningen; Den Burg. ISSN 0077-7579, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • van de Kreeke, J.
  • Robaczewska, K.

    In the partially mixed part of the Volkerak Estuary current speed and salt concentration are measured in several stations for periods of 13 hours on August 16 and 17, 1977. The freshwater discharge on those days and during the preceding six months is kept constant at a rate of 50 m³·s-1. In spite of different wind conditions, the longitudinal distribution of the tidally- and cross-sectionally averaged salt concentration is the same for both days. The vertical structure of circulation and salt concentration differ significantly. A similar set of measurements is carried out on March 18, 1980 with a constant freshwater discharge of 100 m³·s-1. The doubling of freshwater discharge leads to a relatively small increase in vertical circulation and stratification. In this study, the vertical circulation and stratification is examined in terms of the external forcings, freshwater discharge and wind, with special emphasis on wind. Tide conditions, for the three measurement days are similar. The estuary is schematized to a prismatic channel with a rectangular cross-section. In the schematized channel the tidally averaged salt concentration and velocity distribution are laterally uniform. To account for salt fluxes in the actual estuary associated with lateral and time-variations in current velocity and salt concentration, a diffusive salt flux is introduced. The effect of wind and longitudinal density gradients on the vertical circulation and stratification in the schematized channel is investigated using a simplified form of the two-dimensional conservation of momentum and salt equations. Using observed values along the axis of the estuary a scaling analysis shows that in the two-dimensional conservation of momentum equation the longitudinal pressure gradient and horizontal turbulent shear are the dominant terms, closely followed by the tidal stress. In the conservation of salt equation, the dominant terms are those associated with advective fluxes resulting from the horizontal and vertical tidal mean velocities, a horizontal flux associated with tidal variations in the longitudinal velocity and salt concentration and the vertical turbulent flux. Retaining only first order terms, the equations are solved using the similarity solution of Hansen and Rattray. Comparing calculated and observed vertical circulation and stratification it is shown that wind mixing significantly increases the vertical exchange of momentum, thereby reducing the density-driven vertical circulation (=gravitational circulation) and stratification. At the same time, through the wind surface stress, wind generates its own vertical circulation and, therefore, stratification. An expected increase in vertical exchange of mass with increasing wind speed and accompanying reduction in stratification could not be confirmed by the analysis. It is concluded that on the days of the measurements wind is as important as the longitudinal salt concentration gradient in forcing vertical circulation and stratification. Care should be taken in generalizing this conclusion as on the days of the measurements the axial component of the wind velocity is always in the down estuary direction.

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