Many water quality and ecosystem functions performed by streams occur in the benthic biolayer, the biologically active upper (~5 cm) layer of the streambed. Solute transport through the benthic biolayer is facilitated by bedform pumping, a physical process in which dynamic and static pressure variations over the surface of stationary bedforms (e.g., ripples and dunes) drive flow across the sediment‐water interface. In this paper we derive two predictive modeling frameworks, one advective and the other diffusive, for solute transport through the benthic biolayer by bedform pumping. Both frameworks closely reproduce patterns and rates of bedform pumping previously measured in the laboratory, provided that the diffusion model's dispersion coefficient declines exponentially with depth. They are also functionally equivalent, such that parameter sets inferred from the 2D advective model can be applied to the 1D diffusive model, and vice versa. The functional equivalence and complementary strengths of these two models expand the range of questions that can be answered, for example, by adopting the 2D advective model to study the effects of geomorphic processes (such as bedform adjustments to land use change) on flow‐dependent processes and the 1D diffusive model to study problems where multiple transport mechanisms combine (such as bedform pumping and turbulent diffusion). By unifying 2D advective and 1D diffusive descriptions of bedform pumping, our analytical results provide a straightforward and computationally efficient approach for predicting, and better understanding, solute transport in the benthic biolayer of streams and coastal sediments.
In this paper, we develop and validate a rigorous modeling framework, based on Duhamel's Theorem, for the unsteady one‐dimensional vertical transport of a solute across a flat sediment‐water interface (SWI) and through the benthic biolayer of a turbulent stream. The modeling framework is novel in capturing the two‐way coupling between evolving solute concentrations above and below the SWI and in allowing for a depth‐varying diffusivity. Three diffusivity profiles within the sediment (constant, exponentially decaying, and a hybrid model) are evaluated against an extensive set of previously published laboratory measurements of turbulent mass transfer across the SWI. The exponential diffusivity profile best represents experimental observations and its reference diffusivity scales with the permeability Reynolds number, a dimensionless measure of turbulence at the SWI. The depth over which turbulence‐enhanced diffusivity decays is of the order of centimeters and comparable to the thickness of the benthic biolayer. Thus, turbulent mixing across the SWI may serve as a universal transport mechanism, supplying the nutrient and energy fluxes needed to sustain microbial growth, and nutrient processing, in the benthic biolayer of stream and coastal sediments.more » « less
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Publisher / Repository:
- DOI PREFIX: 10.1029
- Date Published:
- Journal Name:
- Water Resources Research
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
More Like this
null (Ed.)Mean flow and turbulence measurements collected in a shallow Halodule wrightii shoal grass fringe highlighted significant heterogeneity in hydrodynamic effects over relatively small spatial scales. Experiments were conducted within the vegetation canopy (~4 cm above bottom) for relatively sparse (40% cover) and dense (70% cover) vegetation, with reference measurements collected near the bed above bare sediment. Significant benthic velocity shear was observed at all sample locations, with canopy shear layers that penetrated nearly to the bed at both vegetated sites. Turbulent shear production (P) was balanced by turbulent kinetic energy dissipation (ϵ) at all sample locations (P/ϵ≈1), suggesting that stem-generated turbulence played a minor role in the overall turbulence budget. While the more sparsely vegetated sample site was associated with enhanced channel-to-shore velocity attenuation (71.4 ± 1.0%) relative to flows above bare sediment (51.7 ± 2.2%), unexpectedly strong cross-shore currents were observed nearshore in the dense canopy (VNS), with magnitudes that were nearly twice as large as those measured in the main channel (VCH; VNS/VCH¯ = 1.81 ± 0.08). These results highlight the importance of flow steering and acceleration for within- and across-canopy transport, especially at the scale of individual vegetation patches, with important implications for nutrient and sediment fluxes. Importantly, this work represents one of the first hydrodynamic studies of shoal grass fringes in shallow coastal estuaries, as well as one of the only reports of turbulent mixing within H. wrightii canopies.more » « less
Dissolved Oxygen (DO) fluxes across the air‐water and sediment‐water interface (AWI and SWI) are two major processes that govern the amount of oxygen available to living organisms in aquatic ecosystems. Aquatic vegetation generates different scales of turbulence that change the flow structure and affect gas transfer mechanisms at AWI and SWI. A series of laboratory experiments with rigid cylinder arrays to mimic vegetation was conducted in a recirculating race‐track flume with a lightweight sediment bed. 2D Planar Particle Image Velocimetry was used to characterize the flow field under different submergence ratios and array densities to access the effect of vegetation‐generated turbulence on gas transfer. Gas transfer rate across AWI was determined by DO re‐aeration curves. The effective diffusion coefficient for gas transfer flux across SWI was estimated by the difference between near‐bed and near‐surface DO concentrations. When sediment begins to mobilize, near‐bed suspended sediment provides a negative buoyancy term that increases the critical Reynolds number for the surface gas transfer process according to a modified Surface Renewal model for vegetated flows. A new Reynolds number dependence model using near‐bed turbulent kinetic energy as an indicator is proposed to provide a universal prediction for the interfacial flux across SWI in flows with aquatic vegetation. This study provides critical information and useful models for future studies on water quality management and ecosystem restoration in natural water environments such as lakes, rivers, and wetlands.
We quantify the lake dynamics, near‐bottom turbulence, flux of dissolved oxygen (DO) across the sediment‐water interface (SWI) and their interactions during oxygenation in two lakes. Field observations show that the lake dynamics were modified by the bubble plumes, showing enhanced mixing in the near‐field of the plumes. The interaction of the bubble‐induced flow with the internal density structure resulted in downwelling of warm water into the hypolimnion in the far‐field of the plumes. Within the bottom boundary layer (BBL), both lakes show weak oscillating flows primarily induced by seiching. The vertical profile of mean velocity within 0.4 m above the bed follows a logarithmic scaling. One lake shows a larger drag coefficient than those in stationary BBLs, where the classic law‐of‐the‐wall is valid. The injection of oxygen elevated the water column DO and hence, altered the DO flux across the SWI. The gas transfer velocity is driven by turbulence and is correlated with the bottom shear velocity. The thickness of the diffusive boundary layer was found to be consistent with the Batchelor length scale. The dynamics of the surface renewal time follow a log‐normal distribution, and the turbulent integral time scale is comparable to the surface renewal time. The analyses suggest that the effect of bubble plumes on the BBL turbulence is limited and that the canonical scales of turbulence emerge for the time‐average statistics, validating the turbulence scaling of gas transfer velocity in low‐energy lakes.
Assessments of riverine ecosystem health and water quality require knowledge of how headwater streams transport and transform nutrients. Estimates of nutrient demand at the watershed scale are commonly inferred from reach‐scale solute injections, which are typically reported as uptake velocities (
v f). Multiple interacting processes control v f, making it challenging to predict how v fresponds to physical changes in the stream. In this study, we link v fto a continuous time random walk model to quantify how v fis controlled by in‐stream (velocity, dispersion, and benthic reaction) and hyporheic processes (exchange rate, residence times, and hyporheic reaction). We fit the model to conservative (NaCl) and nitrate (NO3−‐N) pulse tracer injections in unshaded replicate streams at the Notre Dame Linked Experimental Ecosystem Facility, which differed only in substrate size and distribution. Experiments were conducted over the first 25 days of biofilm colonization to examine how the interaction between substrate type and biofilm growth influenced modeled processes and v f. Model fits of benthic reaction rates were ∼8× greater than hyporheic reaction rates for all experiments and did not vary with substrate type or over time. High benthic reactivity was associated with filamentous green algae coverage on the streambed, which dominated total algal biomass. Finally, v fwas most sensitive to benthic reaction rate and stream velocity, and sensitivity varied with stream conditions due to its nonlinear dependence on all modeled processes. Together, these results demonstrate how reach‐scale nutrient demand reflects the relative contributions of biotic and abiotic processes in the benthic layer and the hyporheic zone.