Determination of the freshwater budget of tidal flats from measurements near a tidal inlet


The freshwater budget of a tidal flat area is evaluated from long-term hydrographic time series from an observation pole positioned in a tidal channel in the Hörnum Basin (Germany). For each tidal cycle, the freshwater budget is calculated from the total imported and exported water volumes and the corresponding mean densities. The variability of the budget on a tidal scale is characterised by a period of twice the tidal period, exhibiting a minimum when the tidal flats are dry around daylight hours during the foregoing low tide, and a maximum when low tide occurs at night; enhanced evaporation on the flats at daylight hours is identified as the driving process. On the average over one year, while winter observations are missing, the freshwater budget is negative for the years 2002-2005 and positive only for 2006. The interannual mean is negative and amounts to a freshwater loss of about 2 mm/day, although the large-scale climate in this region is humid. The results demonstrate that the bulk parametrisations for the latent and sensible heat flux between the ocean and the atmosphere must not be applied for the tidelands.
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