The development and evolution of the persistent counterclockwise circulation in Suo-Nada have been studied in detail using a three-dimensional numerical model. The realistic circulation has been reproduced from the monthly climatological fields of salinity, temperature along the open boundary, wind, heat flux and buoyancy input from twenty-two major rivers surrounding the basin. The seasonal variation of freshwater discharge from the rivers proved to be the most important forcing mechanism driving the circulation. The expansion and contraction of coastal low salinity water well corresponded with the development of counterclockwise circulation from spring to summer and dissipation from autumn to winter. The circulation was found to be vertically homogenous and quasi-barotropic. However, confined along the coastal zone is an estuarine flow (i.e., oppositely directed currents in the upper and lower layers) whose horizontal dimension conforms to the period of maximum buoyancy flux from the rivers. This indicates that the flow pattern in Suo-Nada can be separated into two distinct regions where the relative dominance of estuarine circulation plays a significant role. Furthermore, the monthly water exchange capacity for autonomous purification of the basin has been evaluated from the average residence time of conservative material based on the calculated current field. It is demonstrated that the kinetic energy of the basin is directly responsible in promoting water exchange in Suo-Nada.
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