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Water renewal timescales in the Scheldt Estuary
de Brye, B.; de Brauwere, A.; Gourgue, O.; Delhez, E.J.M.; Deleersnijder, E. (2012). Water renewal timescales in the Scheldt Estuary. J. Mar. Syst. 94: 74-86. hdl.handle.net/10.1016/j.jmarsys.2011.10.013
In: Journal of Marine Systems. Elsevier: Tokyo; Oxford; New York; Amsterdam. ISSN 0924-7963, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in Authors 

Author keywords
    Finite-element; Model; Scheldt Estuary; Water renewal timescales; Age; Residence time; Exposure time

Authors  Top 
  • Delhez, E.J.M., more
  • Deleersnijder, E., more

Abstract
    Using the concepts of the Constituent-oriented Age and Residence time Theory (CART), we compute timescales related to the water renewal in the Scheldt Estuary (The Netherlands/Belgium). Three different timescales are used to better understand and characterize the dynamics of the estuary: the age of the renewing water, the residence time and the exposure time. The residence time is the time taken by a water parcel to leave the estuary for the first time while the exposure time is the total time spent by a water parcel in the estuary including re-entries. The age of a renewing water parcel is defined as the time elapsed since it entered the estuary. The renewing water was split into three types: the water originating from the sea, the water originating from the upstream fresh tidal rivers and the water originating from the different canals and docks connected to the estuary. Every timescale is computed at any time and position by means of the finite-element, unstructured-mesh model SLIM. This results in movies of the timescale fields (shown as Supplementary material), allowing a detailed analysis of their spatial and temporal variabilities. The effect of the M2 tide and the discharge regime (winter, summer or average situation) on the timescales is also investigated.Tidally-averaged timescales vary little over the width of the estuary and hence exhibit a virtually one-dimensional behaviour. However, around these average values, the timescales can vary hugely over a tidal cycle, with amplitudes that significantly depend on the space coordinates. The reason thereof has yet to be elucidated. These results underscore the need for two- or three-dimensional models with high temporal resolution for investigating the dynamics of the Scheldt Estuary.

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