• environmental impacts;
  • environmental sampling;
  • lakes;
  • rivers/streams;
  • transport and fate;
  • models

Owens, Emmet M., Steven W. Effler, Anthony R. Prestigiacomo, David A. Matthews, and Susan M. O’Donnell, 2012. Observations and Modeling of Stream Plunging in an Urban Lake. Journal of the American Water Resources Association (JAWRA) 48(4): 707-721. DOI: 10.1111/j.1752-1688.2012.00646.x

Abstract:  The plunging behavior of two tributaries in Onondaga Lake, New York, is quantified based on a program of monitoring, process studies, and modeling. The dynamics of buoyancy of the tributaries are resolved with hourly measurements of temperature (T), specific conductance (SC), and turbidity (Tn) at the mouths, and observations every 6 h in the lake. Negative buoyancy of the tributaries is found to diminish and change rapidly during runoff events compared to dry periods. In-lake patterns of the transport of plunging inflow are resolved for dry weather conditions using a dye tracer, and following a runoff event through measurements of T, SC, and Tn. The hydrodynamic/transport model ELCOM (Estuary Lake and Coastal Ocean Model) is demonstrated to perform well in simulating these patterns. Analyses conducted with the model establish the importance of diurnal effects and in-lake mixing mediated by wind, the need for temporally detailed measurements during runoff events, and modifications of the plunging behavior of the urban tributary as it passes through a harbor. The model provides critical information to support rehabilitation programs for the lake by quantifying the transport of the two largest tributaries, particularly the distribution of the loads between the upper waters and stratified layers. The model predicts that 10% of the urban tributary load enters the upper waters of the lake within 24 h for a dry weather period; this portion increases to 30% for a runoff event.