A novel approach for direct estimation of fresh groundwater discharge to an estuary

Geophysical Research Letters



Coastal groundwater discharge is an important source of freshwater and nutrients to coastal and estuarine systems. Directly quantifying the spatially integrated discharge of fresh groundwater over a coastline is difficult due to spatial variability and limited observational methods. In this study, I applied a novel approach to estimate net freshwater discharge from a groundwater-fed tidal creek over a spring-neap cycle, with high temporal resolution. Acoustic velocity instruments measured tidal water fluxes while other sensors measured vertical and lateral salinity to estimate cross-sectionally averaged salinity. These measurements were used in a time-dependent version of Knudsen's salt balance calculation to estimate the fresh groundwater contribution to the tidal creek. The time-series of fresh groundwater discharge shows the dependence of fresh groundwater discharge on tidal pumping, and the large difference between monthly mean discharge and instantaneous discharge over shorter timescales. The approach developed here can be implemented over timescales from days to years, in any size estuary with dominant groundwater inputs and well-defined cross-sections. The approach also directly links delivery of groundwater from the watershed with fluxes to the coastal environment. Copyright. Published in 2011 by the American Geophysical Union.
Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title A novel approach for direct estimation of fresh groundwater discharge to an estuary
Series title Geophysical Research Letters
DOI 10.1029/2011GL047718
Volume 38
Issue 11
Year Published 2011
Language English
Publisher American Geophysical Union (AGU)
Publisher location Washington, D.C.
Contributing office(s) Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center
Description 6 p.
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Geophysical Research Letters
Country United States
State Massachusetts
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details