Infoscience

Journal article

Current variability in a wide and open lacustrine embayment in Lake Geneva (Switzerland)

Field measurements and numerical simulations were used to determine the effects of dominant meteorological conditions on the hydrodynamics of a wide (aspect ratio  2), relatively deep (seasonally stratified) and open lake embayment (Vidy Bay, Lake Geneva). A three-dimensional hydrodynamic model (Delft3D-FLOW) was employed to simulate flow in the lake. High-resolution maps of wind, temperature and humidity (over the lake) were applied as input to drive the model. Because wind was the main force driving flow in the lake, currents in the embayment were investigated systematically for different wind conditions and seasonal stratification. Satisfactory model validation was achieved using drifter and moored measurements within the embayment. Markedly different circulation patterns were measured within the embayment, with the transition from one pattern to another occurring abruptly for small changes in wind direction. These distinct patterns resulted from relatively small changes in the large gyre of Lake Geneva’s main basin, especially the angle between the current in front of the embayment and the embayment shoreline. The boundary between the embayment and the pelagic zone was defined by the largest gyre within the embayment. This study shows that, (i) in a large lake, complex current patterns can occur even within a minor embayment, and (ii) that these patterns can transition rapidly over a small range of wind directions. Near-shore gyre can occur for lengthy periods, which has implications for flushing of discharges within the embayment.

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