Inverse estuaries; SPM transport; Wadden sea; Mud motor
The Wadden Sea is characterized by a complex topography of branching channels and intertidal flats, in which the interplay between fresh water discharges, wind forcing and the tidal current causes sediment transport rates and direction to be highly variable in space and time. During three field campaigns, indications of a negative estuarine circulation have been found in a channel adjacent to the coast in the Western Dutch Wadden Sea. Contrary to the classical picture of estuarine circulation, a periodic density stratification was observed that builds up during flood and breaks down during ebb. This can be related to a large freshwater source at the mouth of the channel, the sluice in Kornwerderzand. In this study, observations of this phenomenon are presented, and with the help of a numerical model the different drivers for residual suspended matter transport in this area, namely tidal asymmetries in the current velocity and the above mentioned periodic stratification, are investigated. It is found that the residual current in the area of interest points in ebb direction, caused by both the elongated ebb flow phase and the periodic stratification. On the contrary, the stronger flood currents cause a transport of suspended matter in flood direction. This transport is counteracted and therefore diminished by the effects of the sluice discharge.