Horizontal Density-Gradient Effects on Simulation of Flow and Transport in the Potomac Estuary

by Raymond W. Schaffranek, U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, United States,
Robert A. Baltzer, U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Hydraulic Engineering


A two-dimensional, depth-integrated, hydrodynamic/transport model of the Potomac Estuary between Indian Head and Morgantown, Md., has been extended to include treatment of baroclinic forcing due to horizontal density gradients. The finite-difference model numerically integrates equations of mass and momentum conservation in conjunction with a transport equation for heat, salt, and constituent fluxes. Lateral and longitudinal density gradients are determined from salinity distributions computed from the convection-diffusion equation and an equation of state that expresses density as a function of temperature and salinity; thus, the hydrodynamic and transport computations are directly coupled. Horizontal density variations are shown to contribute significantly to momentum fluxes determined in the hydrodynamic computation. These fluxes lead to enchanced tidal pumping, and consequently greater dispersion, as is evidenced by numerical simulations. Density gradient effects on tidal propagation and transport behavior are discussed and demonstrated.

Subject Headings: Density currents | Numerical models | Computing in civil engineering | Hydrologic models | Two-dimensional models | Salt water | Sediment transport | Mathematics | Potomac River

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