African Journal of Marine Science

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Modelling the tides and their impacts on the vertical stratification over the Sofala Bank, Mozambique

C.M. Chevane, P Penven, F.P.J. Nehama, C.J.C. Reason


The Sofala Bank, a wide shelf located along the central coast of Mozambique, hosts tides with high amplitudes. The Regional Ocean Modelling System (ROMS) was used to analyse the tidal currents on the bank and to investigate their effects on the stratification and generation of tidal fronts. During spring tides, barotropic tidal currents with maximum values ranging from 40 cm s–1 to 70 cm s–1 are found on the central bank. The major axis of the tidal ellipses for M2 and S2 follow a cross-shelf direction with mainly anticlockwise rotation. Similar to observations, three distinct regimes occur: (i) a warm well-mixed region on the inner shelf where the depths are <30 m; (ii) a wellmixed colder region above the shelf edge; and (iii) a stratified region offshore. The model shows that the tides lead to cooling where two criteria are satisfied: the Simpson and Hunter parameter log10(h/U3) <3.2 and the depth h >30 m. The shelf edge of the bank is important for internal tide generation. Two frontal structures result, one offshore between cooler mixed waters and warmer stratified waters and the other in shallow inshore waters, between cooler mixed waters and solar heated mixed waters.

Keywords: barotropic tidal currents, ROMS, sea surface temperature, shallow seas, tidal front
AJOL African Journals Online