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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/os-2019-119
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/os-2019-119
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 20 Dec 2019

Submitted as: research article | 20 Dec 2019

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

Influence of Estuarine Tidal Mixing on Structure and Spatial Scales of Large River Plumes

Alexander Osadchiev1,2, Sergey Shchuka1, Eduard Spivak3, Maria Pisareva1, and Igor Semiletov3 Alexander Osadchiev et al.
  • 1Shirshov Institute of Oceanology, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia
  • 2Institute of Geology of Ore Deposits, Petrography, Mineralogy and Geochemistry, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia
  • 3Ilyichov Pacific Oceanological Institute, Far Eastern Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Vladivostok, Russia

Abstract. The Yenisei and Khatanga rivers are among the largest estuarine rivers that inflow to the Arctic Ocean. Discharge of the Yenisei River is one order of magnitude larger than that of the Khatanga River. However, spatial scales of buoyant plumes formed by freshwater runoffs from the Yenisei and Khatanga gulfs are similar. This feature is caused by different tidal forcing in these estuaries, which have similar sizes, climate conditions, and geomorphology. The Khatanga discharge exhibits strong tidal forcing that causes formation of a diluted bottom-advected plume in the Khatanga Gulf. This anomalously deep and weakly-stratified plume has a small freshwater fraction and, therefore, occupies a large area on the shelf. The Yenisei Gulf, on the other hand, is a salt-wedge estuary that receives a large freshwater discharge and is less affected by tidal mixing due to low tidal velocities. As a result, the low-salinity and strongly-stratified Yenisei plume has a large freshwater fraction and its horizontal size is relatively small. The obtained results show that estuarine tidal mixing determines freshwater fraction in these river plumes, which governs their depth and area after they spread from estuaries to coastal sea. Therefore, influence of estuarine mixing on spatial scales of a large river plume can be of the same importance as the roles of river discharge rate and wind forcing. In particular, rivers with similar discharge rates can form plumes with significantly different areas, while plumes with similar areas can be formed by rivers with significantly different discharge rates.

Alexander Osadchiev et al.
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Alexander Osadchiev et al.
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Short summary
The Yenisei and Khatanga rivers are among the largest estuarine rivers that inflow to the Arctic Ocean. Discharge of the Yenisei River is one order of magnitude larger than of the Khatanga River. However, spatial scales of buoyant plumes formed by freshwater runoffs from the Yenisei and Khatanga gulfs are similar. This feature is caused by intense tidal mixing in the Khatanga Gulf, which causes formation of diluted and, therefore, anomalously deep and large Khatanga plume.
The Yenisei and Khatanga rivers are among the largest estuarine rivers that inflow to the Arctic...
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