Sensitivity analysis of the physical dynamics of the Fly River plume in Torres Strait

Li, Yanfang, Martins, Flavio, and Wolanski, Eric (2017) Sensitivity analysis of the physical dynamics of the Fly River plume in Torres Strait. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 194. pp. 84-91.

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Abstract

The intrusion in the Torres Strait of the Fly River plume polluted by mine tailings is an international water issue. To investigate the physical mechanisms involved in the intrusion process, numerical simulations were conducted to assess the relative influence of the bathymetry and the external forcing, namely the tides, the mean sea level slope across the strait, river runoff and wind forcing. The wind data from Horn Island, the only long-term wind station in the Torres Strait, is shown to be unreliable due to orographic effects. Mean sea level data from altimetry compare well with those from tide gauges in these shallow, reef-studded waters. The wind has a dominant effect on the mean sea level at seasonal and inter-annual periods. The resulting mean sea level difference across the strait fluctuated seasonally and strongly influenced the intrusion of the Fly River plume in the Torres Strait. The 3D finite-volume MOHID model reproduced the observation that the river plume starts by being stratified in the Gulf of Papua where it originates, and it mixes vertically when it enters the Torres Strait. The MOHID and the SLIM models were applied with different resolution to the Torres Strait and responded similarly to the external forcings. The predicted and observed Fly River plume intrusion in the eastern Torres Strait agreed well with each other, including the formation of patches due to flow reversals. However, the two models predicted a widely different Fly River plume in its far field in the western Torres Strait, the differences were attributed to the different bathymetry in the Australian and British-US bathymetry data for these poorly charted waters, which demonstrated the importance of the details of the bathymetry in controlling the extent of plume intrusion.

Item ID: 49515
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1096-0015
Keywords: river plume; altimetry; modelling; wind; uncertainty
Date Deposited: 05 Jul 2017 02:11
FoR Codes: 16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1606 Political Science > 160605 Environmental Politics @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960301 Climate Change Adaptation Measures @ 100%
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