Modelling of tidal hydrodynamics for a tropical ecosystem with implications for pollutant dispersion (Cochin Estuary, Southwest India)
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Tidal circulation in the Cochin Estuary, a moderately polluted estuary along the southwest coast of India, was studied using a 2D hydrodynamic model. The predicted tides and currents showed very good agreement with measured tides. Particle trajectories and residual currents computed from the model have been used to classify the study region into three zones: northern estuary, central estuary, and southern estuary. The central estuary is dynamic, whereas the other two zones are relatively weak. An amplification of measured tides in the south estuary during March indicates the presence of standing waves caused by the hydraulic barrier at Thanneermukkom. Model results suggest that the northern and southern zones are sensitive to environmental pollution. The present level of pollution in the northern estuary is due to the direct release of industrial effluents into the river Periyar, which can be minimized if they are brought down to central estuary for disposal. The concept of different zones in the estuary will be useful to planners in protecting the vulnerable regions of this productive ecosystem from human interventions.
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