Hydrodynamics of a tropical estuary: Buranhém River, Porto Seguro, Brazil

<div><p>ABSTRACT Estuaries are dynamic environments that are highly vulnerable to anthropogenic influences, especially when adjacent to urban areas. In this study it is assessed for the first time the hydrodynamic characteristics of the Buranhém estuary (Northeast Brazil). The aim is to define the salt transport mechanisms and the hydrodynamics and stratification patterns of this tropical estuary, under both spring and neap tidal conditions. Fieldwork was carried out during 8 days covering varying tidal range conditions (July 30th to August 7th, 2015). Salinity and temperature were continuously monitored at moored stations at both the surface and bottom, whereas velocity profile was sampled by a bottom-mounted instrument. Average velocity in the water column was 0.46 m.s-1 during flood tides and 1.0 m.s-1 during ebb tides. Residual currents were seaward, with ebb dominance. The dominant salt transport mechanism is turbulent diffusion. Most of the layer Richardson values did not exceed 2, indicating well mixed conditions mainly during spring tides. Stratification varies with tide condition, with spring tides being able to further mix the vertical structure. Vertical velocity gradients that generate vertical mixing overcome the stabilizing effects generated by vertical density gradients.</p></div>