The Balance of Salinity Variance in a Partially Stratified Estuary: Implications for Exchange Flow, Mixing, and Stratification Academic Article uri icon


  • AbstractSalinity variance dissipation is related to exchange flow through the salinity variance balance equation, and meanwhile its magnitude is also proportional to the turbulence production and stratification inside the estuary. As river flow increases, estuarine volume-integrated salinity variance dissipation increases owing to more variance input from the open boundaries driven by exchange flow and river flow. This corresponds to the increased efficient conversion of turbulence production to salinity variance dissipation due to the intensified stratification with higher river flow. Through the spring–neap cycle, the temporal variation of salinity variance dissipation is more dependent on stratification than turbulence production, so it reaches its maximum during the transition from neap to spring tides. During most of the transition time from spring to neap tides, the advective input of salinity variance from the open boundaries is larger than dissipation, resulting in the net increase of variance, which is mainly expressed as vertical variance, that is, stratification. The intensified stratification in turn increases salinity variance dissipation. During neap tides, a large amount of enhanced salinity variance dissipation is induced by the internal shear stress near the halocline. During most of the transition time from neap to spring tides, dissipation becomes larger than the advective input, so salinity variance decreases and the stratification is destroyed.

publication date

  • December 2018