Dry season salinity changes in arid estuaries fringed by mangroves and saltflats

Ridd, P.V., and Stieglitz, T. (2002) Dry season salinity changes in arid estuaries fringed by mangroves and saltflats. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science , 54 (6). pp. 1039-1049.

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Mangrove swamps and hypersaline saltflats fringe many estuaries in dry tropical climates, especially in Northern Australia. For most of the year these estuaries receive zero riverine freshwater input and thus, after the wet season, a steady increase in salinity occurs. In some locations the estuary becomes fully inverse, i.e. the salinity increases monotonically from the mouth to the head. In other locations, a salinity maximum zone separates the sea from low salinity water that persists at the head of the estuary throughout the dry season. Field data from five estuaries indicate that in short estuaries where a large area of saltflats and mangroves extends over the whole length of the estuary, the estuary becomes completely inverse with salinity rising to 55 within a couple of months. The evaporation and evapotranspiration over the saltflats and mangroves cause this rapid increase in salinity. Longer estuaries where a large area of salt flat exists only close to the mouth do not become completely hypersaline for the whole length of the estuary by the end of the dry season. A salinity-maximum is generated close to the river mouth but salinities of less than 10 persist in the upper reaches of the estuary until the end of the dry season, even though the estuary does not receive any further freshwater input. A simple analytical expression is presented that reproduces the changes in salinities in the estuaries studied. This model can be used to predict the formation of hypersaline conditions in other mangrove and saltflat fringed estuaries where freshwater flow is negligible.

Item ID: 4401
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1096-0015
Keywords: estuaries, salinity; mangroes, evaporation
Date Deposited: 11 Jun 2009 04:12
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9611 Physical and Chemical Conditions of Water > 961104 Physical and Chemical Conditions of Water in Marine Environments @ 51%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9699 Other Environment > 969999 Environment not elsewhere classified @ 49%
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