Numerical modeling of the Patos Lagoon coastal plume

Marques, Wiliam Correa; Fernandes, Elisa Helena Leão; Monteiro, Igor Oliveira; Möller Junior, Osmar Olinto


The Southern Brazilian Shelf (SBS) is a freshwater-influenced region, but studies on the dynamics of coastal plumes are sparse and lack in space-time resolution. Studies on the dynamics of the Patos Lagoon plume are even more limited. The aim of this paper is to investigate the influence of the principal physical forcing for the formation and behavior of the Patos Lagoon coastal plume. The study is carried out through 3D numerical modeling experiments and empirical orthogonal function (EOF) analysis. Results showed that the amount of freshwater is the principal physical forcing controlling the plume formation. The Coriolis effect enhances the northward transport over the shelf, while the tidal effects contribute to intensify horizontal and vertical mixing, which are responsible for spreading the freshwater over the shelf. The wind effect, on the other hand, is the main mechanism controlling the behavior of the Patos Lagoon coastal plume over the inner SBS in synoptic time scales. Southeasterly and southwesterly winds contribute to the northeastward displacement of the plume, breaking the vertical stratification of the inner continental shelf. Northeasterly and northwesterly winds favor ebb conditions in the Patos Lagoon, contributing to the southwestward displacement of the plume enhancing the vertical stratification along and across-shore. The EOF analysis reveals two modes controlling the variability of the plume on the surface. The first mode (explaining 70% of the variability) is associated to the southwestward transportation of the plume due to the dominance of north quadrant winds, while the second mode (explaining 19% of the variability) is associated to the intermittent migration of the plume northeastward due to the passage of frontal systems over the area. Large scale plumes can be expected during winter and spring months, and are enhanced during El Nin˜o events.

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  • IMEF - Artigos publicados em periódicos