Estuarine Hydrodynamics and Water Quality Assessment


Estuarine hydrodynamics control a variety of coastal processes including tidal flushing, pollutant dispersion, currents patterns, sedimentation, erosion, and water levels. Applied Coastal maintains a full suite of hydrodynamic analysis techniques to evaluate various physical processes of these systems, ranging from simple analytical methods to complex three-dimensional models. Numerical models provide a cost-effective method for evaluating tidal hydrodynamics because they require limited data collection and may be utilized to numerically assess a range of management alternatives. Once the hydrodynamics of an estuary system are understood, computations regarding coastal processes become relatively straight-forward extensions of the hydrodynamic modeling. The spread of pollutants may be analyzed from tidal current information developed by numerical models.

Applied Coastal personnel have used numerical models to examine the potential impacts of nitrogen loading within coastal watersheds. For example, two-dimensional hydrodynamic models have been developed for estuary systems to simulate circulation patterns due to tidal and groundwater forcing. Once the hydrodynamic properties of a system are computed, a two-dimensional water quality model is used to predict the dispersion of nitrogen for existing and future loading rates. The water quality and hydrodynamic models are then integrated to estimate the spread of "pollutants" due to circulation patterns. Applied Coastal maintains oceanographic equipment to collect hydrodynamic data used for forcing input, calibration, and verification of model results. Measurement capabilities include tide gauges, current meters, CTDs, and bathymetric survey equipment.


  • Residence time calculations
  • Nutrient loading analysis
  • Scour and sediment transport analysis
  • Water quality modeling
  • Dredging evaluations
  • Hydrodynamic modeling
  • Inlet stability/design evaluation
  • Particle tracking modeling