Estimating estuarine residence times in the Westerschelde (The Netherlands) using a box model with fixed dispersion coefficients
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The residence time of the water masses in the Westerschelde estuary was determined using a simple compartment-model that simulates the advective-diffusive transport of a conservative dissolved substance (chlorinity). The residence time of a water parcel in the upstream part of the estuary (i.e. the time needed for this water parcel to leave the estuary) varied from about 50 days in winter to about 70 days in summer. The most seaward compartment had residence times of about 10-15 days.
Dispersive coefficients that are fixed in time were able to reproduce the observed salinity distributions very well in the Westerschelde. They were obtained by calibration on observed chlorinities. It is argued that the apparent relationship of dispersive coefficients with freshwater flow, which is observed in certain studies, could (partly) reflect the deviation from steady state conditions which are required assumptions to calculate these dispersive coefficients directly from salinity profiles.
Key wordsresidence times Westerschelde estuary
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