Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2022-730
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2022-730
 
08 Aug 2022
08 Aug 2022

Imminent reversal of the residual flow through the Marsdiep tidal inlet into the Dutch Wadden Sea based on multiyear ferry-borne ADCP observations

Johan van der Molen1, Sjoerd Groeskamp1, and Leo R. M. Maas2 Johan van der Molen et al.
  • 1Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ), P.O. Box 59, 1790 AB Den Burg (Texel), The Netherlands
  • 2Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research (IMAU), Utrecht University, Princetonplein 5, 3584 CC Utrecht, The Netherlands

Abstract. The Dutch Wadden Sea is a UN World Heritage Site connected to the North Sea by multiple tidal inlets. Although there are strong tidal currents flowing through these inlets, the magnitude and direction of the residual circulation in the western Dutch Wadden Sea is important for sediment, salinity and nutrient balances. We found that the direction of this residual flow is reversing.

This residual circulation has been the subject of various studies since the 1970’s, in which substantially different net volume fluxes were presented. As driving mechanisms differences in tidal conditions in the main inlets, tidal rectification, and meteorology were identified. Here we analysed almost 13 years of ADCP observations collected on the ferry crossing the Marsdiep tidal inlet in the Dutch Wadden Sea since 2009. The results are combined with earlier investigations covering the period 1998–2009. We find a significant trend in the magnitude of the residual volume flux, with decreasing export to the North Sea, and with occasional imports observed in recent years. We infer that this trend is related to changes in tides in the North Sea, which are caused by increased strength and duration of stratification in response to global warming. With warming projected to continue, we expect the residual flow in the Marsdiep to continue to reverse to full inflow within the current decade, with potential knock-on effects for the sediment balance and ecosystem of the western Wadden Sea.

Johan van der Molen et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-730', Zheng Bing Wang, 27 Sep 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-730', Johannes Becherer, 29 Sep 2022

Johan van der Molen et al.

Johan van der Molen et al.

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Short summary
We studied the long-term mean flow through the Marsdiep tidal inlet in the Dutch Wadden Sea. We found that this flow, which is important for sediment, salt and nutrient balances, is reversing from net outflow to inflow. We relate this to changes in tides in the North Sea, caused by increased stratification in response to global warming. Hence, we expect permanent inflow conditions within a decade, with potential effects on the sediment balance and the ecosystem of this World Heritage site.