Coastal currents adjacent to the Caeté Estuary, Pará Region, North Brazil

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Journal Article
Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 2010, 88 (1), pp. 84 - 90
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We examined and compared tidal currents and water column structure between a near-shore station (12 km from the coast) and an offshore station (32 km from the coast) adjacent to the Caeté River, Pará Region, Brazil. Although the coastal system of Pará is largely influenced by local tides and wind, we found substantial differences in the dominant forcing agents between stations. Water column dynamics at the near-shore station were largely affected by local tidal processes, while differences between surface and bottom layer flows also indicated the importance of gravitational circulation at this station and a substantial influence of the adjacent Caeté River discharge. In comparison, at the offshore station, water column structure was largely influenced by a semi-diurnal tidal flow, an along-coastal current flow (mainly associated with the North Brazil Current) and the dynamics of local wind flow. The near-shore station at low tide showed a high level of stratification; at high tide such stratification was reduced. In comparison, stratification was only apparent within the upper 6 m at the offshore station, the rest of the water column was relatively well-mixed. The stratification within Station 1 at low tide was a result of the bi-directional movement of water discharged from the Caeté River, with lower salinity surface water and high salinity bottom water resulting in an estuarine-like circulation environment. The spatial variability and lack of correlation in current flow and water column structure between the near-shore and offshore stations suggest that a flow field resulting from differences in local circulation, tidal variability and wind persistence separate areas. We argue that this separation may indicate that the offshore station is located in a transition region between the Caeté River waters and the local coastal area. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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