Water-Related News

UF researchers are studying flows at Charlotte Harbor tidal inlets

Tidal inlets, where estuaries connect with ocean waters, play a vital role in controlling water quality and water flow along Florida’s coast.

Charlotte Harbor, a focal estuary of the University of Florida Center for Coastal Solutions (CCS) research, has seven tidal inlets distributed across its barrier islands, a complex network that controls patterns in water exchange in this region of Southwest Florida.

To better understand the hydrodynamics in Charlotte Harbor, a team of CCS researchers led by PhD students Fernanda Gastelau and Collin Ortals and field technicians Todd Van Natta and Patrick Norby, collected water flow, salinity, and temperature data along transects in the estuary’s two largest inlets continuously over 24-hour long periods. “Preliminary analyses of these comprehensive measurements are leading to new insights about the structure of tidal flow at these inlets, as well as the main drivers of this structure” says Dr. Arnoldo Valle Levinson, the lead investigator of this work.

On-going data analysis is focusing on the link between land and ocean processes in the estuary, and how they might affect harmful algal blooms, specifically red tide (Karenia brevis).