Recent advances in understanding flow dynamics and transport of water-quality constituents in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta

David Schoellhamer, Scott Wright, Stephen Monismith, Brian Bergamaschi

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Key points:

  • Water-quality constituents, including salinity, heat, oxygen, nutrients, contaminants, organic particles, and inorganic particles, are affected by water diversions and other human manipulations of flow, and they greatly affect the quantity and quality of benthic, pelagic, and intertidal habitat in the Delta.
  • The Pacific Ocean, the Central Valley watershed, human intervention, the atmosphere, and internal biogeochemical processes are all drivers of flow and transport in the Delta.
  • The tremendous expansion of acoustic and optical instruments deployed in the Delta over the past decade has greatly improved our understanding of how tidal variability affects flow and transport.
  • Sediment is increasingly viewed as a diminishing resource needed to sustain pelagic habitat and tidal marsh, especially as sea level rises.