Alternate Title

Hydrodynamic Variability in a Microtidal Coastal Bay Geographically Susceptible to North East Trade Winds

Document Type



The ecological integrity and overall health conditions of natural coastal systems are largely based upon the balance among physical processes. The objective of this study was to assess the effects of tides and winds on the water level variability, circulation patterns, and turnover time in Bahia de la Ascension (BA), a shallow, tropical coastal bay in the Mexican Caribbean prone to the influence of Trade winds due to its geographical location. The analysis of the hydrodynamics of BA using a 2D numerical model indicates that the tidal flow in the inlets and central basin of the bay vary by tidal phase. An averaged seawater inflow through the south inlet and outflow through the north inlet is observed for every simulated case, while peak instantaneous current velocities are evident in the northern entrance. Winds play a dominant role in the water turnover from the system’s interior to the main bay. The model shows an average turnover time of 45 days for the whole bay, with shorter turnover when Trade winds impart stress along the main northeast–southwest axis in the bay. Since the tidal signal is attenuated in the southwest endpoint of the bay, the relevance of winds in the transport phenomena was considered fundamental to preserve the ecological heterogeneity of BA.

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