Simulation of hydrodynamics and solute transport in the Pamlico River estuary, North Carolina

Open-File Report 94-454

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An investigation was conducted to characterize flow, circulation, and solute transport in the Pamlico River estuary, North Carolina. The study included a detailed field-measurement program and the calibration, validation, and application of a physically realistic numerical model of hydro- dynamics and transport. Water level, salinity, water temperature, wind speed and direction, and current data were collected during March 1988 through September 1992, and were used to characterize physical conditions in the estuary. Data from pre- existing streamflow gaging stations and meteoro- logical stations were also used. A two-dimensional vertically averaged hydrodynamic and solute transport model was applied to the 48-kilometer study reach. The model domain was discretized into 5,620 separate 200- by 200-meter computational cells. Model calibration was achieved through adjustment of parameters for June 14-30, 1991. Data from selected periods in 1989 and 1991 were used for model validation. Water levels used for model calibration and validation ranged from -0.052 to 0.698 meter; salinities ranged from 0.1 to 13.1 parts per thousand; and wind speeds ranged from calm to 22 meters per second. The model was tested for stratified and unstratified conditions. Simulated and observed data were used to evaluate model performance. The calibrated model was applied for selected periods in 1989 and 1991. Instantaneous flows were simulated at each boundary and at mid- estuary. Circulation patterns were characterized using vector plots, particle tracking, and solute transport. Particle tracks showed that materials released at mid-estuary may remain in the system for 25 days or longer.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Simulation of hydrodynamics and solute transport in the Pamlico River estuary, North Carolina
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey ; Earth Science Information Center, Open-File Reports Section [distributor],
Contributing office(s):
South Atlantic Water Science Center
vi, 85 p. :ill., maps ;28 cm.
United States
North Carolina
Other Geospatial:
Pamlico River estuary