Development of a submerged aquatic vegetation growth model in the Coupled Ocean–Atmosphere–Wave–Sediment Transport (COAWST v3.4) model

Geoscientific Model Development
By: , and 

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Abstract

The coupled biophysical interactions between submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV), hydrodynamics (currents and waves), sediment dynamics, and nutrient cycling have long been of interest in estuarine environments. Recent observational studies have addressed feedbacks between SAV meadows and their role in modifying current velocity, sedimentation, and nutrient cycling. To represent these dynamic processes in a numerical model, the presence of SAV and its effect on hydrodynamics (currents and waves) and sediment dynamics was incorporated into the open-source Coupled Ocean–Atmosphere–Wave–Sediment Transport (COAWST) model. In this study, we extend the COAWST modeling framework to account for dynamic changes of SAV and associated epiphyte biomass. Modeled SAV biomass is represented as a function of temperature, light, and nutrient availability. The modeled SAV community exchanges nutrients, detritus, dissolved inorganic carbon, and dissolved oxygen with the water-column biogeochemistry model. The dynamic simulation of SAV biomass allows the plants to both respond to and cause changes in the water column and sediment bed properties, hydrodynamics, and sediment transport (i.e., a two-way feedback). We demonstrate the behavior of these modeled processes through application to an idealized domain and then apply the model to a eutrophic harbor where SAV dieback is a result of anthropogenic nitrate loading and eutrophication. These cases demonstrate an advance in the deterministic modeling of coupled biophysical processes and will further our understanding of future ecosystem change.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Development of a submerged aquatic vegetation growth model in the Coupled Ocean–Atmosphere–Wave–Sediment Transport (COAWST v3.4) model
Series title Geoscientific Model Development
DOI 10.5194/gmd-13-5211-2020
Volume 13
Issue 11
Year Published 2020
Language English
Publisher Copernicus Publications
Contributing office(s) Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center
Description 18 p.
First page 5211
Last page 5228
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