Salt intrusion as a function of estuary length in periodically weakly stratified estuaries

Wei, Xiaoyan ORCID:; Williams, Megan E.; Brown, Jennifer M. ORCID:; Thorne, Peter D. ORCID:; Amoudry, Laurent O.. 2022 Salt intrusion as a function of estuary length in periodically weakly stratified estuaries. Geophysical Research Letters, 49 (15).

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Geophysical Research Letters - 2022 - Wei - Salt Intrusion as a Function of Estuary Length in Periodically Weakly.pdf - Published Version
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Estuarine salt intrusion greatly threatens freshwater supply in surrounding lands. Physical barriers, which reduce the estuary length (L), are widely constructed to control salt intrusion. Yet, the role of L in salt intrusion remains unknown. Using a process-based, idealized, semi-analytical three-dimensional model, we systematically investigate for the first time this unknown for tide-dominated, periodically weakly stratified estuaries. Results show decreasing L significantly reduces salinities for short estuaries (L < Lw/4, with Lw the dominant tidal wavelength), but not for long estuaries. Tidal pumping remains a key salt importer in most estuaries, regardless of L. However, substantial decreases in L relative to Lw/4 can change the dominant landward salt importer from tidal pumping to horizontal diffusion. The latter, together with gravitational circulation, weakens responses of salt intrusion to changes in tidal and river forcing in short estuaries. This study highlights the importance of considering L to understanding and mitigating salt intrusion.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 0094-8276
Date made live: 23 Aug 2022 12:41 +0 (UTC)

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