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Title: Understanding the Flushing Capability of Bellingham Bay and Its Implication on Bottom Water Hypoxia

In this study, an unstructured-grid finite-volume coastal ocean model (FVCOM) was used to simulate hydrodynamic circulation and assess the flushing capability in Bellingham Bay, Washington, USA. The model was reasonably calibrated against field observations for water level, velocity and salinity, and was further used to calculate residence time distributions in the study site. The model results suggest that, despite the large tidal ranges (~4 m during spring tide), tidal currents are relatively weak in Bellingham Bay with surface currents generally below 0.5 m/s. The local residence time in Bellingham Bay varies from to near zero to as long as 15 days, depending on the location and river flow condition. In general, Bellingham Bay is a well-flushed coastal embayment affected by freshwater discharge, tides, wind, and density-driven circulation. The basin-wide global residence time ranges from 5-7 days. The model results also provide useful information on possible causes of the emerging summertime hypoxia problem in the north central region of Bellingham Bay. It was concluded that the formation of the bottom hypoxic water should result from the increased consumption rate of oxygen in the bottom oceanic inflow with low dissolved oxygen by organic matters accumulated at the regions characterized with relatively longmore » residence time in summer months.« less
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
Journal ID: ISSN 0272-7714
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Estuarine Coastal and Shelf Science; Journal Volume: 165
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Richland, WA (US)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States
flushing capability; Bellingham Bay; FVCOM; residence time; hypoxia