Ocean Dynamics

, Volume 68, Issue 8, pp 967–985 | Cite as

Tidal and low-frequency currents off the Jaguaribe River estuary (4° S, 37° 4′ W), northeastern Brazil

  • Francisco Jose da Silva Dias
  • Belmiro Mendes Castro
  • Luiz Drude Lacerda


This article characterizes the spatial and temporal current variations, in the subtidal and tidal ranges, during the rainy and dry seasons, at the continental shelf off the Jaguaribe River, through measurements of continuous current field data from an acoustic Doppler current profiler (ADCP) mooring during 124 days, from June 12 to October 14, 2009. To support this dataset, we collected corresponding data from a meteorological station located at the estuary. The spatial variation showed that highest current speeds occur near the coast, with an offset of a NNW coastal jet, decreasing intensity, monotonically, towards offshore up to 0.1 ms−1. In the rainy season, small inversions of the wind field were observed, lasting 2 to 3 days on average and were accompanied by the direction of surface currents only. In the dry season, the period of reversal of wind fields and currents lasted 14 and 35 h, respectively. The analysis of empirical orthogonal functions in rainy and dry seasons showed that the continental shelf is predominantly barotropic, where the second and third modes explained only 7% of the total variance, during the dry season. The tidal currents are more intense in the direction normal to the coast, showing a semidiurnal tidal regime. Energy distribution between tidal currents and currents of longer periods showed that for the component parallel to bathymetry, subtidal frequency currents are dominant, contributing to more than 70% of the variance. For the normal component to the coastline bathymetry, there is a significant increase of power concerning tidal currents, at all depths, so they contribute with about 55% of the total variance.


Currents Shallow waters Continental shelf, equatorial Atlantic Ocean 



We extend our deep thanks to the crew of the N.Oc Prof. Martins Filho, who made this work possible and to the Oceanographic Instrumentation Laboratory at the University of São Paulo (LIO/IO/USP), especially to engineers Francisco Vicentini and Luiz V. Nonato and to technician Wilson Natal.

Funding information

This study is part of the INCT-TMCOcean project ( “Continent-Ocean Materials Transfer” supported by CNPq, Brazil, process no. 573.601/2008-9. The authors also thank the Blue Amazon Program from CAPES for providing grants to FJSD.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratório de Hidrodinâmica Costeira Estuarina e de Águas Interiores (LHiCEAI) do Instituto de Ciências do Mar (ICMar)Universidade Federal do Maranhão (UFMA) Campus do BacangaSão LuísBrazil
  2. 2.Laboratório de Hidrodinâmica Costeira (LHiCO) do Instituto Oceanográfico (IO)Universidade de São Paulo (USP)São PauloBrazil
  3. 3.Laboratório de Biogeoquímica Costeira (LBC) do Instituto de Ciências do Mar (LABOMAR)Universidade Federal do Ceará (UFC)FortalezaBrazil

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