Comprehensive Analysis of Physical Processes in a Coastal Lagoon: New Insights for Estuarine Management

by Gary A. Zarillo, Florida Inst of Technology, Melbourne, United States,
James T. Liu, Florida Inst of Technology, Melbourne, United States,
Clem Surak, Florida Inst of Technology, Melbourne, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Coastal Zone '93


Long-term observations of physical processes in the Indian River Lagoon have been analyzed to resolve the various forcings and boundary conditions that control episodic salt intrusion, stratification, mixing and advection of fresh and salt water in this estuary. High frequency and long-term sampling captured processes ranging from local wind forcing and storm events, to very low frequency changes that occur on a seasonal basis. Analysis of data from the on-going monitoring program shows that hydrodynamics and salinity regime of the IRL are dominated by low frequency processes operating at periods of a few days (meteorological frequency band) to a few months (climatic frequency band). Direct tidal effects are filtered out by a constricted inlet at the ocean boundary. The results of this study highlight and close some significant gaps in our knowledge of physical processes in wind-forced shallow estuaries. This knowledge is being used to develop best management practices. The recognition of episodic intrusion of salt into the estuary, coupled with seasonal cycles of stormwater flow through the lateral boundaries of the estuary provide the basis for a scheme to manage the impacts of high freshwater discharge on the salinity regime.

Subject Headings: Coastal processes | Salt water intrusion | Lagoons | Estuaries | Coastal management | Fresh water | Seasonal variations | Domain boundary | Florida | United States

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