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Dispersion processes in weakly dissipative tidal channels
  • Annalisa De Leo,
  • Nicoletta Tambroni,
  • Alessandro Stocchino
Annalisa De Leo
University of Genoa

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Nicoletta Tambroni
University of Genoa
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Alessandro Stocchino
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
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We report the results of an extensive experimental campaign dedicated to the analysis of turbulent dispersion owing to the circulations in tidal environments, characterized by a tidal inlet and a channel with lateral tidal flats. We focus on weakly-convergent and weakly-dissipative estuaries or tidal embankments, where the internal waters communicate with the open sea through an inlet mouth. Tides are reproduced as single or multiple harmonics waves. Particle Image Velocimetry is employed to measure two-dimensional surface velocity field. Large scale macro-vortices, generated by vortex shedding during the flood phase from the inlet barrier, tend to occupy the entire tidal flats width and are completely flushed out during the ebb phase. In all experiments an intense residual current, with shape influenced by the large-scale flood vortices, is observed. The presence of large-scale vortices and of a residual current strongly influences the Lagrangian auto-correlation functions and the corresponding absolute dispersion time evolution. Looping auto-correlations are the signature of both periodic forcing and vortices, ultimately, leading to super diffusive regimes. An asymptotic Brownian regime is always found for the investigated range of parameters allowing for an estimate of the horizontal dispersion coefficients which turn out to decrease with the friction parameter and tend to be enhanced when the semi-diurnal constituents prevail. Finally, multiple particle statistics show multiple regimes depending on particle separations, compared to a typical injection length scale that seems to coincide with the inlet mouth dimension.