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Brazilian Journal of Oceanography

On-line version ISSN 1982-436X


MIRANDA, Luiz Bruner de et al. Circulation and salt intrusion in the Piaçaguera Channel, Santos (SP). Braz. j. oceanogr. [online]. 2012, vol.60, n.1, pp.11-23. ISSN 1982-436X.

Analysis of thermohaline properties and currents sampled at an anchor station in the Piaçaguera Channel (Santos Estuary) in the austral winter was made in terms of tidal (neap and spring tidal cycles) and non-tidal conditions, with the objective to characterize the stratification, circulation and salt transport due to the fortnightly tidal modulation. Classical methods of observational data analysis of hourly and nearly synoptic observations and analytical simulations of nearly steady-state salinity and longitudinal velocity profiles were used. During the neap tidal cycle the flood (v<0) and ebb (v>0) velocities varied in the range of -0.20 m/s to 0.30 m/s associated with a small salinity variation from surface to bottom (26.4 psu to 30.7 psu). In the spring tidal cycle the velocities increased and varied in the range of -0.40 m/s to 0.45 m/s, but the salinity stratification remained almost unaltered. The steady-state salinity and velocity profiles simulated with an analytical model presented good agreement (Skill near 1.0), in comparison with the observational profiles. During the transitional fortnightly tidal modulation period there was no changes in the channel classification (type 2a - partially mixed and weakly stratified), because the potential energy rate was to low to enhance the halocline erosion. These results, associated with the high water column vertical stability (RiL >20) and the low estuarine Richardson number (RiE=1.6), lead to the conclusions: i) the driving mechanism for the estuary circulation and mixing was mainly balanced by the fresh water discharge and the tidal forcing associated with the baroclinic component of the gradient pressure force; ii) there was no changes in the thermohaline and circulation characteristics due to the forthnigtly tidal modulation; and iii) the nearly steady-state of the vertical salinity and velocity profiles were well simulated with a theoretical classical analytical model.

Keywords : Thermohaline properties; Circulation; Theoretical-observational profiles; Salt transport; Stratification.

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