CSDMS 2017 annual meeting: Modeling Coupled Earth and Human Systems - The Dynamic Duo

Coupling Sediment Transport and Biogeochemical Processes: The Role of Resuspension on Oxygen & Nutrient Dynamics

Julia Moriarty

Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William & Mary, United States

Observations in coastal environments show that seabed resuspension can impact water quality and biogeochemical dynamics by vertically mixing sediment and water, and by redistributing material that has been entrained into the water column. Yet, ocean models that incorporate both sediment transport and biogeochemical processes are rare. The scientific community frequently utilizes hydrodynamic-sediment transport numerical models, but hydrodynamic-biogeochemical models ignore or simplify sediment processes, and have not directly accounted for the effect of resuspension on oxygen and nutrient dynamics.

This presentation focuses on development and implementation of HydroBioSed, a coupled hydrodynamic-sediment transport-biogeochemistry model that was developed within the open-source Regional Ocean Modeling System (ROMS) framework. HydroBioSed can account for processes including advection, resuspension, diffusion within the seabed and at the sediment-water interface, organic matter remineralization, and oxidation of reduced chemical species. Implementation of the coupled HydroBioSed model for different locations, including the Rhone River subaqueous delta and the northern Gulf of Mexico, have helped to quantify the effects of both sediment transport and biogeochemical processes. Results indicate that resuspension-induced exposure of anoxic, ammonium-rich portions of the seabed to the more oxic, ammonium-poor water column can significantly affect seabed-water column fluxes of dissolved oxygen and nitrogen. Also, entrainment of seabed organic matter into the water column may significantly draw down oxygen concentrations in some environments. Ongoing work focuses on how resuspension and redistribution of organic matter and sediment may influence oxygen dynamics in the Chesapeake Bay.

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Of interest for:
  • Coastal Working Group
  • Marine Working Group
  • Chesapeake Focus Research Group
  • Human Dimensions Focus Research Group