Tuesday 26 Mar 2013Water Quality Model Development for Estuaries: A combined numerical and experimental approach

Dr Bettina Bockelmann-Evans - University of Cardiff

Room 170 Harrison 14:00-15:00

The continued global increase in the demand for energy, growing recognition of climate change impacts, high oil and gas prices and the rapid depletion of fossil fuel reserves have led to an increased interest in the mass generation of electricity from renewable resources which were previously not economically attractive or technically feasible for large scale exploitation. Amongst these, marine and in particular, tidal energy resource are now being considered to form a significant part of the energy mix with plans for mass exploitation in the near future. Tidal renewable energy systems are designed to extract the potential energy flow and convert it into electricity through tidal range schemes such as barrages, where low head turbines are encapsulated in impoundment structures. Previous numerical modelling studies have shown that these schemes, when implemented at scales required to generate substantial amounts of electricity, could significantly alter the tidal flow characteristics and hydrodynamic regime of a water body, with changes to sediment transport. However, as yet, there have been no numerical modelling studies on the potential impact of these schemes on water quality parameters such as nutrients given that they readily attach to sediments and nothing is known about the associated impact on eutrophication potential. This study aims to address this research gap by applying the 3-D computational model, Environmental Fluid Dynamics Code (EFDC), to assess the potential water quality impacts of tidal renewable energy systems along the Welsh Coast. In order to enable a more robust modelling assessment, laboratory chemical experiments were conducted to support the refinement of key coefficients of the computational model such as the adsorption rate of nutrients to suspended sediments as a function of changes in water quality parameters such as salinity.

Dr Bettina Bockelmann-Evans is a Senior Lecturer at Cardiff University, a member of the Hydro-environmental Research Centre at Cardiff School of Engineering and a Chartered Civil Engineer. She has got 15 years’ experience in Environmental Water Management. Bettina’s main research interest is in hydro-environmental aspects of estuarine and coastal waters and catchment to coast modelling of water quality constituents, using a combination of field, laboratory and computer modelling techniques. She has co-ordinated Interreg, ERDF and UK research council grants and is leading the Atlantic Area MAREN project on investigating the hydro-environmental impacts and the energy extraction potential of marine renewable energy devices along the European Atlantic coastline. She is particularly interested in investigating estuarine waters and the impact of marine renewables and the salinity gradient on nutrient sediment interaction. The aim of her research is to use this understanding to construct predictive water quality and ecological models which may be used to simulate the short and long-term impacts of anthropogenic inputs on receiving water bodies using and refining hydrodynamic and water quality models.

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