Estuarine circulation reversals and related rapid changes in winter near-bottom oxygen conditions in the Gulf of Finland, Baltic Sea
- Marine Systems Institute, Tallinn University of Technology, Akadeemia Road 15a, 12618 Tallinn, Estonia
Abstract. The reversal of estuarine circulation caused by southwesterly wind forcing may lead to vanishing of stratification and subsequently to oxygenation of deep layers during the winter in the Gulf of Finland. Six conductivity, temperature, depth (CTD)+oxygen transects (130 km long, 10 stations) were conducted along the thalweg from the western boundary to the central gulf (21 December 2011–8 May 2012). Two bottom-mounted ADCP were installed, one near the western border and the second in the central gulf. A CTD with a dissolved oxygen sensor was deployed close to the western ADCP. Periods of typical estuarine circulation were characterized by strong stratification, high salinity, hypoxic conditions and inflow to the gulf in the near-bottom layer. Two circulation reversals were observed: one in December–January and one in February. The first reversal event was well developed; it caused the disappearance of the stratification and an increase in the oxygen concentration from hypoxic values to 270 μmol L−1 (to 6 mL L−1) throughout the water column along the thalweg and lasted approximately 1.5 months. Shifts from estuarine circulation to reversed circulation and vice versa were both associated with strong longitudinal (east–west) gulf currents (up to 40 cm s−1) in the deep layer. The change from oxygenated to hypoxic conditions in the western near-entrance area of the gulf occurred very rapidly, within less than a day, due to the intrusion of the hypoxic salt wedge from the NE Baltic Proper. In the eastern part of the gulf, good oxygen conditions caused by reversals remained for a few months.