Articles | Volume 19, issue 6
Research article
18 Jun 2015
Research article |  | 18 Jun 2015

Revised predictive equations for salt intrusion modelling in estuaries

J. I. A. Gisen, H. H. G. Savenije, and R. C. Nijzink

Abstract. For one-dimensional salt intrusion models to be predictive, we need predictive equations to link model parameters to observable hydraulic and geometric variables. The one-dimensional model of Savenije (1993b) made use of predictive equations for the Van der Burgh coefficient $K$ and the dispersion at the seaward boundary D0. Here we have improved these equations by using an expanded database, including new previously un-surveyed estuaries. Furthermore, we derived a revised predictive equation for the dispersion at tidal average condition and with the boundary situated at the well identifiable inflection point where the estuary changes from wave-dominated to tide-dominated geometry. We used 89 salinity profiles in 30 estuaries (including seven recently studied estuaries in Malaysia), and empirically derived a range of equations using various combinations of dimensionless parameters. We split our data in two separated data sets: (1) with more reliable data for calibration, and (2) with less reliable data for validation. The dimensionless parameters that gave the best performance depended on the geometry, tidal strength, friction and the Richardson number. The limitation of the equations is that the friction is generally unknown. In order to overcome this problem, a coupling has been made with the analytical hydraulic model of Cai et al. (2012), which makes use of observed tidal damping and by which the friction can be determined.

Short summary
We revised the predictive equations for two calibrated parameters in salt intrusion model (the Van der Burgh coefficient K and dispersion coefficient D) using an extended database of 89 salinity profiles including 8 newly conducted salinity measurements. The revised predictive equations consist of easily measured parameters such as the geometry of estuary, tide, friction and the Richardson number. These equations are useful in obtaining the first estimate of salinity distribution in an estuary.