The goal of the Land Use-Coastal Ecosystem Study (LU-CES) is "develop scientifically sound predictive decision-making models (tools) that integrate changes in land use patterns with effects on hydrodynamics, transport processes and ecosystem function to assist in planning for sustainable coastal land use and resource management [Kleppel and Devoe (1999)]."
The temporal and spatial variability of biological production, suspended/dissolved material transport, and salt budgets in the South Carolina and Georgia salt marsh and estuary system is controlled by the short-term (daily to weekly) and long-term (seasonal to interannual) variation of interacting physical, biological, and chemical processes associated with (1) freshwater discharges (river output, groundwater flux, and precipitation via evaporation), (2) asymmetric characteristics of tidal advection and mixing, (3) wind intensity and directions, (4) inorganic and organic transformation processes, and (5) lower and higher trophic level food web interactions. The salt marsh plays a critical role in maintaining the nutrient balance, respiration of organic matters, food supplies in the ecosystem of South Carolina and Georgia estuaries. A model-guided exploration of the nonlinear interaction of these processes will enhance our understanding of the mechanism for the variation of the local estuarine ecosystem and a development of a 3D estuarine circulation model will build a solid foundation for our final goal in developing an interdisciplinary estuarine model with the capability of guiding us the wise use and protection of life resource in South Carolina and Georgia estuaries and shelf.
The goal of this modeling effort is to apply our current 3D estuarine model to simulate the complexities of the 3D circulation in salt marsh-estuary system at the LU-CES selected study site. The objectives are (1) to provide the 3D current and salinity fields in the selected estuarine regions for the study of salt budget, nutrients, inorganic and organic matter fluxes over intertidal salt marshes and estuaries; (2) to identify, qualify, and quantify the impacts of physical processes, such as tidal advection and mixing, freshwater discharges, wind, rainfall, groundwater, point or non-point nutrient sources and pollutant material loading from the land, on the marine environment of South Carolina and Georgia estuaries, and (3) to integrate the retrospective and LU-CES interdisciplinary observed data to conduct a model-guide mechanism study of the South Carolina and Georgia's estuarine ecosystem. The final goal of this project is to provide managers with a scientific and visual tool that can assist them in making strategic or emergency decisions on efficient utilization of limited marine resources. This tool also can help predict the potential impacts of the unwise use of these resources or of pollutant material loading from the land on the environment in South Carolina and Georgia estuaries. After the model is fully developed, it can be accessed and run by managers and scientists through the Internet for the purpose of coastal management and scientific investigation.