An overview of multi-dimensional models of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

Michael MacWilliams, Eli Ateljevich, Stephen Monismith, Chris Enright

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Key points:

  • Over the past 15 years, the development and application of multi-dimensional hydrodynamic models in San Francisco Bay and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta has transformed our ability to analyze and understand the underlying physics of the system.
  • Multi-dimensional models have also provided significant insights into some of the fundamental biological relationships that have shaped our thinking about the system by exploring the relationship among X2, flow, fish abundance, and the low salinity zone.
  • Coupling multi-dimensional models with wind wave and sediment transport models, have made it possible to understand how large-scale changes to the system are likely to affect sediment dynamics, and to assess the potential effects on species that rely on turbidity for habitat.
  • Coupling of multi-dimensional hydrodynamic models with particle tracking models has led to advances in our thinking about residence time, the retention of food organisms in the estuary, the effect of south Delta exports on larval entrainment, and the pathways and behaviors of salmonids that travel through the Delta