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Understanding estuarine hydrodynamics for decision making in data poor coastal environments

Understanding estuarine hydrodynamics for decision making in data poor coastal environments

Coastal zones and estuaries provide ecosystem services at local, national and international levels. Consequently, decision makers implement broadly impacting and costly regulatory actions using available scientific resources. Developing countries face further resource challenges necessitating effective science for management.

The advancement of scientific knowledge of coasts and estuaries is confounded by overlapping and cascading nature of hydro-geomorphological processes. Further, many estuaries of the "global south" are macro-tidal and functionally different to the well studied estuaries of Europe and North America, presenting a unique challenge for the transfer and development of science for management of macro-tidal estuaries within developing countries.

A "top down" or "rule based" conceptual modelling approach has been proposed to address these challenges: providing a "first cut" of understanding of system-wide functioning and guiding selected management decision, and later informing scientific investigation using more detailed data collection and modelling methodologies.

Baseline data collection, rule based, and numerical models are proposed and investigated in this project, characterising a poorly studied macro-tidal estuary of central Mozambique. The uncertainty and quality of estimates of various methods will be examined. For example, the flushing time estimates from three dimensional hydrodynamic modelling and coarser rule based methods, such as the tidal prism method. Results will be presented in a framework guiding application in similar systems, and in support of existing research and management planning tools.

A summary of the project, and data collected, is available.