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Numerical modelling of sediment transport in the Adriatic Sea

June 30, 2014

A new sediment transport model, considering currents, tides and waves is presented for the Adriatic Sea basin. The simulations concentrate on the winter of 2002–2003 because of field data availability and interesting intermittent processes occurrence. A process oriented analysis is performed to investigate the impact that Sirocco and Bora wind regimes have on sediment transport. The comparisons of the simulations with the observed data show that the model is capable to capture the main dynamics of sediment transport along the Italian coasts and the sediment concentration within the water column. This latter can reach values up to several g L−1, especially within the first centimetres above the bottom. The sediments are transported mainly southwards along the Italian coasts, consistently with the known literature results, except during Sirocco wind events, which can be responsible for reversing the coastal circulation in the northern area of the basin, and consequently the sediment transport. The resuspension of sediments is also related to the specific wave regimes induced by Bora and Sirocco, the former inducing resuspension events near the coasts while the latter causing a more diffused resuspension regime in the Northern Adriatic basin. Beside the realistic representation of short timescales resuspension/deposition events due to storms, the model was also used to investigate persistent erosion or deposition areas in the Adriatic Sea. Two main depocenters were identified: one, very pronounced, in the surroundings of the Po river delta, and another one a few kilometres off the coast in front of the Ancona promontory. A third region of accumulation, even if less intense, was found to be offshore the southernmost limit of the Gargano region. On the contrary the whole western coast within a distance of a few kilometres from the shore was found to be subject to prevailing erosion. The comparison with observed accumulation and erosion data shows that the model captures well the main depocenters in the domain and the erosion within the very coastal belt of the western side of the basin, but seems to be too erosive in a few areas, in particular those where the contribution of sediment inflow to the sea of some minor but intermittently important rivers is not considered in a realistic way as input to the model.

Guarnieri A, Souza AJ, Pinardi N, Traykovski P, 2014: Numerical modelling of sediment transport in the Adriatic Sea, Ocean Sci. Discuss., 11, 1391-1433, doi:10.5194/osd-11-1391-2014. Article.

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