Modeling Vertical Stratification in the Pamlico River Estuary Using Modern Hydrodynamics

by Alan F. Blumberg, HydroQual Inc, Mahwah, United States,
C. Kirk Ziegler, HydroQual Inc, Mahwah, United States,
Bradley Nisbet, HydroQual Inc, Mahwah, United States,

Abstract: A modern hydrodynamic model is applied to the Pamlico River estuary. Good agreement was obtained between measured and predicted water elevations and salinity distributions during the one year long (1911) model calibration/validation period. Recent studies in the Pamlico River Estuary, North Carolina of the relationship between bottom-water dissolved oxygen and vertical stratification by Stanley and Nixon (1992) strongly suggest that there is a tight coupling between the hydrodynamic characteristics and observed DO levels. To quantify these relationships, a dissolved oxygen model, to be implemented in the near future, will be driven by transport derived from a modern hydrodynamic model that has been developed and calibrated for this dynamically active estuarine system. The purpose of this paper is to describe these efforts and to determine how well a modern hydrodynamic model, with sufficient spatial resolution, can reproduce the physics of complex estuaries.

Subject Headings: Hydrologic models | Estuaries | Hydrodynamics | Rivers and streams | Water stratification | Dissolved oxygen | Salt water | Calibration | Terrain models | North Carolina

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