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Revista Brasileira de Oceanografia

Print version ISSN 1413-7739


ARAUJO, Moacyr; MEDEIROS, Carmen  and  RIBEIRO, Cesar. Energy balance and time-scales of mixing and stratification in the Jaboatão estuary, NE-Brazil. Rev. Bras. Oceanogr. [online]. 1999, vol.47, n.2, pp.145-154. ISSN 1413-7739.

Estuarine systems undergo different physical processes that simultaneously control their stratification and mixing dynamics. This energy balance determines both, the estuarine hydrodynamics and the dynamics of water. This article presents a quantitative and comparative analyses between the forces maintaining stratification (surface heating; rainfall precipitation; and differential advection of the longitudinal density gradient due to the vertical velocity field) and those responsible for the vertical mixing (mechanical stirring of bottom tidal stress; mechanical stirring ofsurface wind stress; and surface evaporation) in the lower estuary ofthe Jaboatão River (JE), Pemambuco, NE-Brazil. The energy available to mix the water column at the' lower Jaboatão was 2.2 and 2.0-fold greater than that available to promote stratification, during the dry and rainy seasons, respectively. The bottom shear turbulence caused by the tides was the major source of energy for the vertical mixing. A theoretical analyses revealed that the turbulence decay time-scale io both seasons was much greater (dry=29min; rainy=25 min) than the stratification time-scale (dry=8 mio; rainy=7 min) and than the slack water time-scale (15 min). Thus the estuary was vertically well-mixed even during slack water periods during both, dry and rainy seasons. Theoretical results were confirmed by field data and are in agreement with earlier numerical simulations.

Keywords : Energy balance; Turbulence-stratification; Tropical estuary; Jaboatão.

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