AbstractA method is presented to calculate indirectly the heat budget of a tidal flat area from downstream observations of temperature and horizontal velocity in a tidal channel. It is only necessary to establish a relationship between
the velocity and the volume flux. Then the heat budget of the upstream region is determined by integrating the heat flux over one tide. The proposed method is applied
to long-term measurements obtained in 2004 at two sites in a tidal channel in the H¨ornum Basin, German
Wadden Sea. At the site located farther downstream in the channel, the upstream catchment area is diagnosed to export heat (heat gain in the interior) from March through August, while import is diagnosed for the same period of time at the other upstream site. From September
through November the situation is reversed. An analytical estimate suggests that the sign of the budget
is controlled by the tidal prism and the length of the dry-falling period of the flats in the respective upstream region. In addition, a simple model is developed which
can be used to determine the integral bottom heat flux of the tidal flats.