Past Awards

FY 2015 | 1 – Understand | 15-10-04-05

Linking Hydrological and Oceanographic Models in Prince William Sound, Alaska

D. Hill, Oregon State University
Contract Term: 04/01/15 – 03/31/16
Award: $99,954

Scope of Work:

Accurate knowledge of oceanographic circulations in coastal Alaskan waters is important since these circulations transport mass and momentum and therefore directly impact nearshore water quality and marine resources. Local-scale circulations (bay/fjord scale) are controlled both by larger-scale (shelf; Gulf of Alaska) oceanographic boundary conditions and by terrestrial boundary conditions (runoff). In Alaska, forcing at both boundaries is extreme; tides can be in excess of 10 m and specific freshwater discharge (runoff per unit area) can be in excess of 2 m. Predictive oceanographic models of circulations and particle trajectories are only as good as the equations upon which they are built and the boundary conditions that drive them. Present-day research and operational codes are robust and mature, with good representations of the physics governing fluid flow. However, most regions in Alaska are data-poor, in the sense that observations of the variables (weather conditions, streamflow, etc. ) that are needed to drive nearshore circulation models are scarce. This scarcity occurs primarily in the spatial sense, where very few data platforms are installed in vast regions, but it can also occur in the temporal sense, where a stream of interest is gagged highly intermittently. The Prince William Sound(PWS) watershed is an excellent example of all of the above. It is a strategic resource and it is characterized by spectacular variability in physical characteristics (terrain, weather, etc. ) and in its response to its environment (complex circulations, residence time patterns).