Gyre formation within embayments of a large lake (Lake Geneva, Switzerland)

Numerical simulations were carried out to examine gyre formation within open, wide lacustrine embayments. The present study was motivated by observed differences in gyre formation within two open and wide embayments (located at Vidy and Morges in Lake Geneva, Switzerland). These two embayments are located within about 3 km of each other on the northern shore of Lake Geneva, and are subjected to similar pelagic currents. Vidy is deeper and has a greater aspect ratio than Morges. The flow field in the embayments was modeled using a previously validated 3D hydrodynamic model (Delft3D-FLOW). The model solved the Reynolds-Averaged Navier-Stokes equations, combined with a k-ε turbulence closure in σ (lakebed-following) coordinates. Our study focused on the influence of the embayment geometry on the (uniform) longshore (pelagic) current, specifically the occurrence and magnitude of circulation within the embayment. We built a set of numerical experiments using synthetic embayments, and systematically examined embayment geometry, thereby capturing the differences between the Vidy and Morges embayments. The numerical experiments considered single rectilinear embayments with different aspect ratios (i.e., 1-6), depth, shore-parallel flow rates, and embayment corner angle between 0°-50°. The circulation magnitude changes abruptly for an angle of about 40°. Embayments with angles greater than 40° have much greater circulation then those with lesser angles, other factors remaining the same. Of the factors considered (i.e., aspect ratio, offshore current velocity, corner angle, bottom slope, and viscosity), bottom slope and the viscosity have almost no impact on embayment circulation. For uniform offshore current patterns, gyres form in embayments with large aspect ratios (up to ~3). For the Vidy and Morges embayments, the results showed that gyre formation is more likely in Morges due to its smaller aspect ratio, a finding that is supported by field data gathered in drifter studies. For example, simultaneous drifter releases in 2011 showed parallel-to-shore currents in the Vidy embayment and a gyre in Morges.

Presented at:
American Geophysical Union's 46th annual Fall Meeting, San Francisco, California, USA, December 9-13, 2013

 Record created 2014-02-26, last modified 2018-09-13

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