Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans

Spatio-temporal distribution, along-channel transport, and post-riverflood recovery of salinity in the Guadalquivir estuary (SW Spain)

Authors

  • M. Díez-Minguito,

    Corresponding author
    • Environmental Fluid Dynamics Group, Interuniversity Research Institute of Earth System in Andalusia – University of Granada, Granada, Spain
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  • E. Contreras,

    1. Fluvial Dynamics and Hydrology Research Group, Interuniversity Research Institute of Earth System in Andalusia – University of Córdoba, Córdoba, Spain
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  • M. J. Polo,

    1. Fluvial Dynamics and Hydrology Research Group, Interuniversity Research Institute of Earth System in Andalusia – University of Córdoba, Córdoba, Spain
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  • M. A. Losada

    1. Environmental Fluid Dynamics Group, Interuniversity Research Institute of Earth System in Andalusia – University of Granada, Granada, Spain
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Corresponding author: M. Díez-Minguito, Environmental Fluid Dynamics Group, Interuniversity Research Institute of Earth System in Andalusia – University of Granada. CEAMA, Avda. del Mediterráneo, s/n, E-18006, Granada, Spain. (mdiezm@ugr.es)

Abstract

[1] This paper presents an experimental analysis of the salinity distribution, the salt balance, and the variation of the saline intrusion in comparison to the freshwater discharge in the Guadalquivir estuary, which is a mesotidal system regulated and normally subjected to extremely low river flows. In such low-flow conditions, it is positive, well-mixed, and tidally dominated. The estuary is also characterized by a nonstationary, effective longitudinal dispersion coefficient, whose probability density becomes increasingly narrower and whose mean value is higher further upstream. The tidal-averaged salt flux is controlled by the following mechanisms (in order of importance): the nontidal transport, the Stokes transport, and the tidal pumping induced by the covariance between the current and salinity. These three factors account for more than 98% of the flux variation. In high river-flow conditions, the subtidal response and recovery of the estuary to changes in the river flow is analyzed. The increase in the tidal-averaged salinity during the first 2 weeks of the post-riverflood recovery in the middle and upper sections of the estuary is found to be linear in time. During that time, the celerity of the salt intrusion front was 4cm/s. The 2 psu isohaline salt intrusion X2 exhibits a complex dependence on the river flow Qd, including the effects of human interventions in the estuary. Three regimes are identified for the intrusion: X2=57.0± 2.1km for discharges of less than 20m 3/s, X2 proportional to inline image between 20 and 1000m 3/s, and X2proportional to inline imagefor larger discharges.

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