Articles | Volume 15, issue 12
Research article
07 Dec 2011
Research article |  | 07 Dec 2011

Spatial variation of the longitudinal dispersion coefficient in an estuary

D. C. Shaha, Y.-K. Cho, M.-T. Kwak, S. R. Kundu, and K. T. Jung

Abstract. The effective longitudinal dispersion is a primary tool for determining property distributions in estuaries. Most previous studies have examined the longitudinal dispersion coefficient for the average tidal condition. However, information on spatial and temporal variations of this coefficient at low and high tides is scarce. Three years of hydrographic data taken at low and high tide along the main axis of the Sumjin River Estuary (SRE), Korea are used to estimate the spatial and temporal variation of the effective longitudinal dispersion coefficient. The range of the dispersion coefficient is rather broad at high water slack (HWS) and narrower at low water slack (LWS) because of the different tidal amplitudes. The spatially varying dispersion coefficient has maximal values (>300 m2 s−1) near the mouth at high water and decreases gradually upstream, with fluctuations. The temporally varying dispersion coefficient appears to be positively correlated with river discharges at both low and high tide. The dispersion varies with the square root of river discharges at HWS and LWS. The dispersive salt fluxes increases with increasing river discharges and decreases with decreasing river discharges at HWS and LWS. Estimation of the numerical values of the effective longitudinal dispersion coefficient in the SRE can be useful for better understanding of the distributions of other tracers in the SRE as well as for developing and testing hypotheses about various mixing mechanisms.