Environmental Fluid Mechanics

, Volume 9, Issue 5, pp 471–492 | Cite as

Dynamics of the buoyant plume off the Pearl River Estuary in summer

Original Article


Field measurements of salinity, wind and river discharge and numerical simulations of hydrodynamics from 1978 to 1984 are used to investigate the dynamics of the buoyant plume off the Pearl River Estuary (PRE), China during summer. The studies have shown that there are four major horizontal buoyant plume types in summer: Offshore Bulge Spreading (Type I), West Alongshore Spreading (Type II), East Offshore Spreading (Type III), and Symmetrical Alongshore Spreading (Type IV). River mouth conditions, winds and ambient coastal currents have inter-influences to the transport processes of the buoyant plume. It is found that all of the four types are surface-advected plumes by analysing the vertical characteristic of the plumes, and the monthly variations of the river discharge affect the plume size dominantly. The correlation coefficient between the PRE plume size and the river discharge reaches 0.85 during the high river discharge season. A wind strength index has been introduced to examine the wind effect. It is confirmed that winds play a significant role in forming the plume morphology. The alongshore wind stress and the coastal currents determine the alongshore plume spreading. The impact of the ambient currents such as Dongsha Current and South China Sea (SCS) Warm Current on the plume off the shelf has also assessed. The present study has demonstrated that both the river discharge and wind conditions affect the plume evolution.


Pearl River Estuary Buoyant plume The northern shelf of SCS River discharge Wind 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of OceanologyChinese Academy of SciencesQingdaoChina
  2. 2.Institute of Estuarine and Coastal ResearchZhong-Shan UniversityGuangzhouChina
  3. 3.Griffith School of EngineeringGriffith UniversityGold CoastAustralia
  4. 4.South China Sea Institute of OceanologyChinese Academy of SciencesGuangzhouChina

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