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Fluxes to estuarine and coastal environments


Hydrodynamic and sediment transport modeling of Barnegat Bay-Little Egg Harbor,

 BB-LEH model bathymetry

Model domain, with depth below MSL in meters

Residence time in BB-LEH domain
Fraction of particles in the bay under different scenarios
New Jersey

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Barnegat Bay and Little Egg Harbor (BB-LEH) form a shallow, back-barrier estuary complex on the New Jersey coast. Tourism, shellfishing, and recreation in and around BB-LEH are a major source of economic activity for local communities. Recent declines in water clarity, increases in harmful algal blooms, and proliferation of macroalgae are major concerns for both humans and ecosystems. The USGS New Jersey Water Science Center and Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center are undertaking a mapping, monitoring, and modeling project to support restoration of the Barnegat Bay-Little Egg Harbor estuary.

Scope of work

Seafloor mapping and bottom characterization data of BB-LEH have been used to develop a hydrodynamic and sediment transport model of the region. The model will also drive an offline water-quality model. Different forcing scenarios have been tested to investigate the estuary's response in terms of residence time.

Preliminary results

Residence time calculations were initially performed with Regional Ocean Model System (ROMS) in line module for particle tracking. It was found that the particles deployed in the northern bay between Kettle and Cedar Creeks, including upstream Toms River and Cedar Creek, had the longest residence time suggesting poor flushing in this part of the bay (Defne and Ganju, 2012). The fraction of particles retained in the domain at the end of the simulation period indicates that tidal forcing dominates the exchange of water between BB-LEH and the Atlantic Ocean. Meteorological events were substantially more effective in flushing BB-LEH than the river flow.


Defne, Z., and Ganju N.K., 2012, Effect of storm events and sustained winds on residence time in a shallow, back-barrier estuary. 2012 Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union, San Francisco, California.

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Page last modified: 12/28/2011