Impact of Freshwater Inflow From the Volturno River on Coastal Circulation

Sergio Bonomo, Luciana Ferraro, Antonia Di Maio, Federica Pessini, Roberto Sorgente, Alberto Ribotti, Fabrizio Lirer, Antonio Cascella, Sergio Bonomo, Angelo Perilli, Ines Alberico

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1 Citation (Scopus)


The coastal area located in front of the Volturno river estuary (the Gulf of Gaeta, central-eastern Tyrrhenian Sea) was synoptically sampled in seven surveys between June 2012 and October 2014. Vertical profiles of temperature and salinity were acquired on a high-resolution nearly-regular grid in order to describe the spatial and temporal variability of the characteristics of the waters. Moreover, the three-dimensional velocity field associated with each survey was computed through the full momentum equations of the Princeton Ocean Model to provide a first assessment of the steady-state circulation at small scale. The data analysis shows the entire water column to be characterized by an evident thermal cycle and a vertical thermohaline structure, dominated by three types of waters: the freshwater of the river, the saltier coastal Tyrrhenian waters, and transitional waters originating from their mixing. The inflow of freshwater strongly affects the density distribution, leading to strong temporal variability in the upper layer. Its impact is more evident in winter, sometimes inducing a vertical temperature inversion. In case of rainy events, and also in conditions of high vertical temperature stratification, it forms a surface-trapped layer with high density gradients. These and wind forcing contribute to the formation of small-scale shallow features, such as longshore currents and cyclonic and anticyclonic eddies. The latter influence the vertical stratification and modify the coastal circulation, preserving the transitional waters from the surrounding saltier ones.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
JournalFrontiers in Marine Science
Publication statusPublished - 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oceanography
  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Aquatic Science
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Ocean Engineering


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