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Discussion papers | Copyright
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 21 Jun 2018

Research article | 21 Jun 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Ocean Science (OS).

Buoyancy-driven effects on turbulent diffusivity induced by a river plume in the southern Brazilian shelf

Rafael André Ávila and Paulo H. R. Calil Rafael André Ávila and Paulo H. R. Calil
  • Laboratório de Dinâmica e Modelagem Oceânica (DinaMO), Instituto de Oceanografia, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande

Abstract. Freshwater plumes are important flow structures that influence the dynamics and water properties of coastal regions and continental shelves. Turbulence in plume regions is mainly driven by shear instabilities at the interface between plume and oceanic waters, which, in turn, depend on the geometry and outflow of a specific plume region. The Southern Brazilian Shelf presents a highly variable hydrographic distribution modulated by the seasonal wind variation and the freshwater discharge from the La Plata River estuary, which has a significant impact on the continental shelf circulation. This buoyant plume creates strong density gradients and interacts with local water masses resulting in a complex hydrographic pattern. In this study, high resolution hydrography and microstructure measurements were obtained in order to verify the effect of freshwater stratification on vertical mixing in this highly dynamic continental shelf. Results show that the plume is highly stable at southern portions of the shelf, as density displacements, or Thorpe displacements, δT, heat diffusivity, KT, buoyancy flux, Bf, and density gradient ratio, Rp are reduced when compared to the northern areas. Moreover, hydrographic data suggests that the large-scale La Plata River plume has a dynamic mid-field region due to instabilities generated when reaching the shelf break.

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Rafael André Ávila and Paulo H. R. Calil
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Rafael André Ávila and Paulo H. R. Calil
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