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Modeling Water Exchange and Contaminant Transport through a Baltic Coastal Region, Ambio 35

Author(s): Engqvist A, Döös K, Andrejev O


The water exchange of the Baltic coastal zone is characterized by its seasonally varying regimes. In the safety assessment of a potential repository for spent nuclear fuel, it is important to assess the consequences of a hypothetical leak of radionuclides through the seabed into a waterborne transport phase. In particular, estimates of the associated residence times in the near-shore coastal zone are of interest. There are several methods to quantify such measures, of which three are presented here. Using the coastal location of Forsmark (Sweden) as an example, methods based on passive tracers, particle trajectories, and the average age distribution of exogeneous water parcels are compared for a representative one-year cycle. Tracer-based methods can simulate diffusivity more realistically than the other methods. Trajectory-based methods can handle Lagrangian dispersion processes due to advection but neglect diffusion on the sub-grid scale. The method based on the concept of average age (AvA) of exogeneous water can include all such sources simultaneously not only boundary water bodies but also various (fresh)water discharges. Due to the inclusion of sub-grid diffusion this method gives a smoother measure of the water renewal. It is shown that backward in time trajectories and AvA-times are basically equipollent methods, yielding correlated results within the limits set by the diffusivity.

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