In order to examine the influence of forcing (river flow and tides) and anthropogenic activities (dredging and dam regulation) on stratification, a study was conducted over a period of 19 months (June 2008–December 2009) in the Gautami–Godavari estuary (G–GE) during spring and neap tide periods covering entire spectrum of discharge over a distance of 36 km from the mouth. The bathymetry of the estuary was recently changed due to dredging of ∼20 km of the estuary from the mouth for transportation of barges. This significantly changed the mean depth and salinity of the estuary from its earlier state. The variations in the distribution of salinity in the Godavari estuary are driven by river discharge during wet period (June–November) and tides during dry period (December–May). The weak stratification was observed during high discharge (July–August) and no discharge (January–June) periods associated with dominant fresh water and marine water respectively. The strong stratification was developed associated with decrease in discharge during moderate discharge period (October–December). Relatively stronger stratification was noticed during neap than spring tides. The 15 psu isohaline was observed to have migrated ∼2–3 km more towards upper estuary during spring than neap tide suggesting more salt enters during former than latter period. Total salt content was inversely correlated with river discharge and higher salt of about 400×106 m3 psu was observed during spring than neap tide. Flushing times varied between less than a day and more than a month during peak and no discharge periods respectively with lower times during spring than neap tide. The flushing times are controlled by river discharge during high discharge period, tides during dry period and both (river discharge and tides) under moderate discharge period. This study suggests that modification of discharge, either natural due to weak monsoon, or artificial such as dam constructions and re-routing the river flow, may have significant impact on the stratification and biogeochemistry of the Godavari estuary.
Volume 131, 2022
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