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Turbulence and mixing in a freshwater-influenced tidal bay: Observations and numerical modeling

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Abstract

In situ observations and numerical simulations of turbulence are essential to understanding vertical mixing processes and their dynamical controls on both physical and biogeochemical processes in coastal embayments. Using in situ data collected by bottom-mounted acoustic Doppler current profilers (ADCPs) and a free-falling microstructure profiler, as well as numerical simulations with a second-moment turbulence closure model, we studied turbulence and mixing in the Xiamen Bay, a freshwater-influenced tidal bay located at the west coast of the Taiwan Strait. Dynamically, the bay is driven predominantly by the M2 tide, and it is under a significant influence of the freshwater discharged from the Jiulong River. It is found that turbulence quantities such as the production and dissipation rates of the turbulent kinetic energy (TKE) were all subject to significant tidal variations, with a pronounced ebb-flood asymmetry. Turbulence was stronger during flood than ebb. During the flooding period, the whole water column was nearly well mixed with the depth-averaged TKE production rate and vertical eddy viscosity being up to 5×10−6 W kg−1 and 2×10−2 m2 s−1, respectively. In contrast, during the ebb strong turbulence was confined only to a 5–8 m thick bottom boundary layer, where turbulence intensity generally decreases with distance from the seafloor. Diagnosis of the potential energy anomaly showed that the ebb-flood asymmetry in turbulent dissipation and mixing was due mainly to tidal straining process as a result of the interaction between vertically shared tidal currents and horizontal density gradients. The role of vertical mixing in generating the asymmetry was secondary. A direct comparison of the modeled and observed turbulence quantities confirmed the applicability of the second-moment turbulence closure scheme in modeling turbulent processes in this weakly stratified tidally energetic environment, but also pointed out the necessity of further refinements of the model.

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Correspondence to ZhiYu Liu.

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Lian, Q., Liu, Z. Turbulence and mixing in a freshwater-influenced tidal bay: Observations and numerical modeling. Sci. China Earth Sci. 58, 2049–2058 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11430-015-5093-7

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