Use of a hydrodynamic model for the management of water renovation in a coastal system

Cerralbo, Pablo; F.-Pedrera Balsells, Marta; Mestres, Marc; Fernandez, Margarita; Espino, Manuel; Grifoll, Manel; Sanchez-Arcilla, Agustin

In this contribution we investigate the hydrodynamic response in Alfacs Bay (Ebro Delta, NW Mediterranean Sea) to different anthropogenic modifications in freshwater flows and inner bay–open sea connections. The fresh water coming from rice field irrigation contains nutrients and pesticides and therefore affects in multiple ways the productivity and water quality of the bay. The application of a nested oceanographic circulation modelling suite within the bay provides objective information to solve water quality problems that are becoming more acute due to temperature and phytoplankton concentration peaks during the summer period when seawater may exceed 28 ∘C, leading to high rates of mussel mortality and therefore a significant impact on the local economy. The effects of different management “solutions” (like a connection channel between the inner bay and open sea) are hydrodynamically modelled in order to diminish residence times (e-flushing time) and water temperatures. The modelling system, based on the Regional Ocean Modeling System (ROMS), consists of a set of nested domains using data from CMEMS-IBI for the initial and open boundary conditions (coarser domain). One full year (2014) of simulation is used to validate the results, showing low errors with sea surface temperature (SST) and good agreement with surface currents. Finally, a set of twin numerical experiments during the summer period (when the water temperature reaches 28 ∘C) is used to analyse the effects of proposed nature-based interventions. Although these actions modify water temperature in the water column, the decrease in SST is not enough to avoid high temperatures during some days and prevent eventual mussel mortality during summer in the shallowest regions. However, the proposed management actions reveal their effectiveness in diminishing water residence times along the entire bay, thus preventing the inner areas from having poor water renewal and the corresponding ecological problems.

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Cerralbo, Pablo / F.-Pedrera Balsells, Marta / Mestres, Marc / et al: Use of a hydrodynamic model for the management of water renovation in a coastal system. 2019. Copernicus Publications.

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