A Numerical Study of the Plata River Plume Along the Southeastern South American Continental Shelf
NAVAL RESEARCH LAB STENNIS SPACE CENTER MS OCEANOGRAPHY DIV
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The Rio de la Plata, one of the largest rivers on Earth, discharges into the ocean waters from basin that covers a large area of South America. its plume extends along northern Argentina, Uruguay, and southern Brazil shelves strongly influencing the ecosystems. In spite of this, little is known about the mechanisms that control it. Here we report results of simulations with POMPrinceton Ocean Model carried out to investigate the roles of wind and river discharge in Plata plume dynamics. Different outflows were explored including an average climatological value and magnitudes representative of La Nina and El Nino. Forcing the model with river discharge the average plume was directly related to the outflow intensity. The Plata northward extension varied from 850 to 1550km and for average discharge a band of low salinity waters formed from the estuary up to 30 deg. N of South Brazilian Shelf. Upwelling and downwelling winds were applied after 130 days. The distribution of low salinity waters over the shelf was more sensitive to the wind direction than to the river outflow variability. Downwelling winds were very capable of advecting the low salinity signal downshelf. Upwelling winds were efficient in eroding the plume, which was basically detached from the coast by Ekman drift. Abnormal plume intrusions toward low latitudes may be a result of the original plume position coupled with events of persistent strong downwelling favorable winds.
- Physical and Dynamic Oceanography
- Hydrology, Limnology and Potamology