Experimental and numerical study of the hydrodynamics of the western sector of Ria Formosa

The western sector of Ria Formosa, a lagoon system in the south of Portugal, represents approximately 90% of the total tidal prism of the lagoon and includes three inlets. Two sets of field campaigns to characterize the hydrodynamics of this sector in neap and spring tide conditions were conducted in the autumn of 2011 and spring 2012. The main findings related to the inlets hydrodynamics and water exchanges between the lagoon and the ocean along semi-diurnal tidal cycles are presented. To estimate the relative contribution of the three inlets to the water exchanges between Ria Formosa and the ocean, discharges were evaluated hourly along complete neap and spring semi-diurnal tidal cycles and the tidal prisms computed. In addition, two sea level time series measured in Faro-Olhao inlet and Faro commercial pier were harmonically analyzed. The results were compared with previous studies and used to validate the ELCIRC hydrodynamic model. This model provided additional information about the circulation and tidal prisms and distortion inside the western Ria Formosa. This study confirmed the Faro-Olhao inlet as the main inlet in terms of contribution for the total tidal prism. It is shown that the Ancao inlet lost hydraulic efficiency, contributing less than 6% to the total tidal prism in all situations and the Armona inlet gained efficiency in spring tide and lost efficiency in neap tide. Moreover, the Faro-Olhao inlet exhibits flood prisms higher than ebb prisms under neap and spring tides, suggesting a residual circulation towards the Ancao and Armona inlets.


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Authors: Jacob, Jose, Cardeira, Sara, Rodrigues, Marta, Bruneau, Nicolas, Azevedo, Alberto, Fortunato, Andre B., Rosa, Monica, Cravo, Alexandra

1 January, 2013
Journal of Coastal Research
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