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Salinity and suspended matter variations in the Tay estuary

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Abstract

The concept of salinity-induced density layering in estuaries was first demonstrated from the upper reaches of the Tay. In this study the nature of the layering and its variation through the tidal cycle is demonstrated from time series of observations taken at many locations within this estuary. Thorough mixing of the waters on the rising tide, as defined by depth profiles of salinity, is commonly replaced by salinity layering during the high water slack period. This condition continues into the falling tide. Frequently the mixed waters are abruptly replaced by stratified waters within the half-hourly sampling interval. This is attributed to the activity of longitudinal fronts, manifest as surficial foam bands, along which water masses shear past each other on both the flood and ebb tides. Offsetting of transverse salinity contours along the fronts is introduced to explain apparent complexities in surface water salinity distributions measured at high water slack. Suspended particulate matter concentrations increase towards the limit of the saline water intrusion before decreasing headwards into the freshwater zone of the estuary. The suspensions in the water column may also be displaced by the lateral offsetting of the waters along the fronts. The recognition of the presence of fronts, and a knowledge of their impact on the estuarine waters may provide an alternative means of understanding the flow characteristics of these challenging water bodies. The techniques of spatial and temporal averaging normally widely used today may not be the most realistic approach to analysis of the flows. (c) 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)729-747
Number of pages19
JournalContinental Shelf Research
Volume25
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2005

    Research areas

  • salinity, startification, mixing, estuarine fronts, turbidity maximum, FRONTAL SYSTEMS, SEDIMENT, CONVERGENCE, UK

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