Salinity, temperature, and optical characterization of a tidally choked estuary connected to two contrasting intra-coastal waterways
MacMahan, James H.
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Spatial and temporal observations of CDOM, salinity and temperature were obtained in New River Inlet, NC to describe the salinity, temperature and optical characterization of a tidally choked estuary with connecting intra-coastal waterways (ICWs). Four different water masses identified as originating from different regions of the estuary, contribute to the characterization of the inlet: 1) ocean (low CDOM, high salinity, and low temperature water), 2) backbay (high CDOM, lower salinity, and warm temperatures), 3) southern ICW (high CDOM, hyper-saline, warm water), and 4) a mixed region. During flood tides, ocean water is transported into the backbay and during ebb tides, backbay water is transported into the ocean. The proximity of the neighboring inlets affects the exchange processes between the southern and northern ICW. The inlet 36km south of New River causes the southern ICW to respond as a tidally choked channel, reducing exchange processes and resulting in increased CDOM, temperature, and salinity. On the contrary, the inlet 12km north of New River Inlet allows free exchange processes between the ocean and the backbay. An interaction exists between the ICWs and the primary inlet tidal channel, where backbay and ocean water are both transported to the ICWs.
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