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Salt flux in a laboratory model estuary

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Motivated by recent field observations, a laboratory model estuary experiment was conducted for the study of its flow and stratification. We find that a small inflow of cold freshwater, on top of warm saline water can lead to a large counter flow in the lower layer. This counter flow is part of a large aspect ratio convective cell driven by the horizontally varying diffusive cooling from above. Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV) measurement of the Reynolds stresses associated with transient tilted plumes embedded in this convective cell show that the viscous dissipation of the large-scale cellular flow is largely balanced by the Reynolds stress divergence of the tilted plumes. Using Optical Rotation measurements along with the PIV derived mean flow we find that the internal “salt” flux has Nusselt number (the ratio of convective to diffusive transport) of order 103. Although the convection is vertically forced, the flow is essentially horizontal, and there is very little vertical mixing across the interface between the two layers.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: July 1, 2011

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  • The Journal of Marine Research publishes peer-reviewed research articles covering a broad array of topics in physical, biological and chemical oceanography. Articles that deal with processes, as well as those that report significant observations, are welcome. In the area of biology, studies involving coupling between ecological and physical processes are preferred over those that report systematics. Authors benefit from thorough reviews of their manuscripts, where an attempt is made to maximize clarity. The time between submission and publication is kept to a minimum; there is no page charge.
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