2008 journal article
Tidal variations of flow convergence, shear, and stratification at the Rio de la Plata estuary turbidity front
Journal of Geophysical Research, 113(C8).
Intratidal variability of density and velocity fields is investigated at the turbidity front of the Río de la Plata Estuary, South America. Current velocity and temperature‐salinity profiles collected in August 1999 along a repeated transect crossing the front are analyzed. Horizontal and vertical gradients, stability of the front, convergence zones, and transverse flow associated to the frontal boundary are described. Strong horizontal convergence of the across‐front velocity and build up of along‐front velocity shear were observed at the front. In the proximity of the front, enhanced transverse (or along‐front) flow created jet‐like structures at the surface and near the bottom flowing in opposite directions. These structures persisted throughout the tidal cycle and were advected upstream (downstream) by the flood (ebb) current through a distance of ∼10 km. During peak flood, the upper layer flow reversed from its predominant downstream direction and upstreamflow occupied the entire water column; outside the peak flood, two‐layer estuarine circulation dominated. Changes in density field were observed in response to tidal straining, tidal advection, and wind‐induced mixing, but stratification remained throughout the tidal cycle. This work demonstrates the large spatial variability of the velocity field at the turbidity front; it provides evidence of enhanced transverse circulation along the frontal boundary; and reveals the importance of advective and frictional intratidal processes in the dynamics of the central part of the estuary.