Motivated by recent field observations, a laboratory model estuary experiment was conducted for the study of its flow and stratification. We find that a small inflow of cold freshwater, on top of warm saline water can lead to a large counter flow in the lower layer. This counter flow is part of a large aspect ratio convective cell driven by the horizontally varying diffusive cooling from above. Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV) measurement of the Reynolds stresses associated with transient tilted plumes embedded in this convective cell show that the viscous dissipation of the large-scale cellular flow is largely balanced by the Reynolds stress divergence of the tilted plumes. Using Optical Rotation measurements along with the PIV derived mean flow we find that the internal “salt” flux has Nusselt number (the ratio of convective to diffusive transport) of order 103. Although the convection is vertically forced, the flow is essentially horizontal, and there is very little vertical mixing across the interface between the two layers.
Krishnamurti, R., and T. N. Krishnamurti. 2011. "Salt flux in a laboratory model estuary." Journal of Marine Research 69, (4). https://elischolar.library.yale.edu/journal_of_marine_research/318