Shallow-water System Dynamics in Chesapeake Bay, with Physical-Biological Modeling Application

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Richard Tian, University of Maryland Center (UMCES) for Environmental Science, Frostburg, MD, United States, Ping Wang, VIMS/CBPO, Annapolis, MD, United States and Lewis Craig Linker, Organization Not Listed, Washington, DC, United States
Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States. The total surface area is 9920 square kilometers of which 7540 square kilometers are shallower than 10 m. These shallow systems provide vital habitats and nursery grounds for numerous species of fish, shellfish, and wildlife. In the Chesapeake the shallow water systems have deteriorated in terms of healthy ecosystem levels and submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV). Restoration of the shallow water systems requires an understanding of their dynamics including wave-current interactions, shoreline erosion, sediment suspension, biological and biogeochemical processes, sediment diagenesis, sediment-water exchange, and diel cycles of temperature, salinity, turbidity, alkalinity, chlorophyll, nutrients, and dissolved oxygen (DO). To this end, an extensive shallow water monitoring program has been implemented in the Chesapeake since 2003. The program includes bi-weekly cruises of nutrient sampling, a continuous monitoring network with electronic sensors collecting data at a 15 minute interval, and a unique data flow survey from moving boats that collect underway observations with a datum frequency of seconds. The data reveal large diel cycles, with chlorophyll varying between a few mg/l to hundreds of mg/l, DO between 0 to 20 mg/l (with saturation from 0 to 250%), turbidity between 0 to 1500 NTUs, and pH from 6.0 to 9.5, which demonstrate the highly dynamic nature in physical and biological process of the shallow water systems . In order to better understand the key mechanisms and processes of these shallow-water systems and to explore the monitoring data, we applied a coupled physical and water quality model to the Chester and Corsica tributaries. The physical model is the Unstructured Finite Volume Coastal Ocean Model (FVCOM) and the water quality model is the Integrated Compartment Model (ICM) which has 36 state variables such as phytoplankton, zooplankton, DO, nutrients, and various organic matter and sediment-water interactions. The simulated results show high patchiness in water quality properties due to micro- and meso-scale eddies caused by the meandering of the coastal line, which contribute to in part the temporal variability at a fixed station. Detailed information on monitoring data, and simulated results will be presented at the conference.