Dynamics of hypersaline coastal waters in the Great Barrier Reef

Andutta, Fernando P., Ridd, Peter V., and Wolanski, Eric (2011) Dynamics of hypersaline coastal waters in the Great Barrier Reef. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 94 (4). pp. 299-305.

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Abstract

The coastal waters of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) are hypersaline (salinity ~ 37) during the dry season as a result of evaporation greatly exceeding rainfall, of shallow waters, and of the presence of numerous bays along the coast preventing rapid flushing. These hypersaline waters are not flushed out by salinity-driven baroclinic currents because these waters are vertically well-mixed. Instead these waters are transported by a longshore residual current and thus form a coastal boundary layer of hypersaline waters. As a result the hypersalinity distribution is 2-D with both cross-shelf and longshore gradients of salinity. The cross-shelf gradients are largely controlled by turbulent diffusion, while the longshore gradients are controlled by the residual currents that transport hypersaline waters longshore south ward in the central and southern regions of the GBR. Because every bay supplies hypersaline waters, the width of the coastal hypersaline layer increases southwards. Steady state is reached in about 100 days, which is the typical duration of the dry season. The dynamics of the GBR hypersaline coastal boundary layer thus differ from the classical inverse hypersaline systems, e.g. in Saloum River Estuary, Laguna San Ignacio, Mission Bay, Tomales Bay, San Diego Bay, Hervey Bay, Shark Bay, Coorong Coast Lagoon, Spencer Gulf, Gulf of California and many others where the salinity gradient is mainly 1-D with a dominant along-channel salinity gradient.

Item ID: 18230
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1096-0015
Keywords: salinity; evaporation; diffusion; trapping; diffusion-advection balance
Date Deposited: 27 Sep 2011 07:08
FoR Codes: 04 EARTH SCIENCES > 0405 Oceanography > 040503 Physical Oceanography @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9611 Physical and Chemical Conditions of Water > 961102 Physical and Chemical Conditions of Water in Coastal and Estuarine Environments @ 100%
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