, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp 305-331

Stratification and Tidal Current Effects on Larval Transport in the Eastern English Channel: Observations and 3D Modeling

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Abstract

We study how the combination of tides and freshwater buoyancy affects the marine organisms accumulation and horizontal transport in the ROFI system of the eastern English Channel. The Princeton Ocean Model coupled with a particle-tracking module is used to study the migration of fish eggs and larvae under different forcing conditions. Results of modeling are validated against observed concentrations of Flounder (Pleuronectes flesus) larvae. Numerical Lagrangian tracking experiments are performed with passive and active particles, representing sea-water organisms. Passive particles are neutrally buoyant whereas active particles are able to exercise light dependent vertical migrations equating to the swimming behavior of larvae. The experiments reveal that the strongest accumulation of particles occurs along the French coast on the margin of the ROFI. This happens because the interaction between the turbulence, the freshwater buoyancy input, and tidal dynamics, produces particle trapping and vertical spreading within the frontal convergence zone. Tides and freshwater input induce net alongshore horizontal transport toward the North. Tidal currents modulate the magnitude of horizontal transport whereas the fresh water input controls more the location of accumulation zones. Tracking experiments with active particles indicate that the vertical migration leads to a significant departure from the passive particle transport pattern. Differences lie in the shape of the particle transport pattern and the rate of the northward migration. In particular, vertically migrating particles travel slower. To find possible Flounder migration pathways, particles are released within the assumed spawning area of Flounder. The model predicts larvae drift routes and demonstrates that throughout the entire particle-tracking period the horizontal structure of the particle distribution is consistent with the larvae concentrations observed during the field experiments.