State Water Resources Research Institute Program

Project ID: 2011GA289B
Title: Impact of Upstream Water Use on Salinity and Ecology of Apalachicola Bay
Project Type: Research
Start Date: 3/01/2011
End Date: 2/29/2012
Congressional District: 5th
Focus Categories: Surface Water, Water Quality, Hydrology
Keywords: Salinity; Ecology; Hydrology; Estuarine
Principal Investigators: Roberts, Philip (Georgia Institue of Technology); Roberts, Philip (Georgia Institue of Technology)
Federal Funds: $ 20,000
Non-Federal Matching Funds: $ 40,000
Abstract: A three-dimensional model of Apalachicola Bay, Florida, will be developed and applied to assess the effect of river management strategies on salinity and the ecology of the bay. The Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) river basin system terminates in Apalachicola Bay which is the most important ecosystem in the ACF. It produces 90% of the state's oyster harvest, and the third largest shrimp catch. Salinity changes as a result of different management strategies in the ACF can have profound effects on the bay's ecology. These effects are presently not well quantified or understood, however. The bay's hydrodynamics are complex, and driven by time-varying tides, winds, and freshwater inflows. Although shallow, the bay is vertically stratified, and the salinity varies significantly in the horizontal and vertical directions and also temporally. After calibrating and verifying the model against measured water levels and salinities, it will be coupled to the ACF Decision Support System (DSS) model which will generate inflow sequences for the hydrodynamic salinity model. We will use the results to develop general relationships between salinity and freshwater flow. We will also run scenarios to address the effects of climate change, through changes in sea level and hydrology, on the bay. The project will help develop a comprehensive understanding of the linkages between river hydrology, estuarine salinity, and ecology that is critical for the development of a sound instream flow policy for ecosystem protection and sustainability.

Progress/Completion Report, 2011, PDF

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