Estimation of freshwater runoff into Glacier Bay, Alaska and incorporation into a tidal circulation model

DF Hill, SJ Ciavola, L Etherington, Megan Klaar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

21 Citations (Scopus)


Freshwater discharge is one of the most critical parameters driving water properties within fjord estuarine environments. To date, however, little attention has been paid to the issue of freshwater runoff into, Glacier Bay, a recently deglaciated fjord in southeastern Alaska. Estimates of discharge into Glacier Bay and the outlying waters of Icy Strait and Cross Sound are therefore presented. Existing regression equations for southcentral and southeastern coastal Alaska are applied to Glacier Bay to arrive at the estimates. A limited set of acoustic Doppler current profiler (ADCP) measurements generally support the predictions of the regression equations. The results suggest that discharge into the bay ranges from a few hundred to a few thousand m(3) s (1) during a typical year. Peak discharges can be much higher, approximately 10,000 m(3) s (1) for the 10-year flow event. Estimates of the seasonal variation of discharge are also obtained and reveal a broad peak during the summer months. The hydrologic estimates are then coupled with a barotropic tidal circulation model (ADCIRC - ADvanced CIRCulation model) of Glacier Bay waters. This Coupling is achieved by treating the entire coastline boundary as a non-zero normal-flux boundary. Numerical simulations with the inclusion of runoff allow for the estimation of parameters such as the estuarine Richardson number, which is an indicator of estuary mixing. Simulations also allow for the comparison of Lagrangian trajectories in the presence and absence of runoff. The results of the present paper are intended to complement a comprehensive and recently-published dataset on the oceanographic conditions of Glacier Bay. The results will also guide continuing efforts to model three-dimensional circulations in the bay, (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-107
Number of pages13
JournalEstuarine Coastal and Shelf Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2009


  • hydrology
  • circulation
  • runoff
  • fjord estuarine systems
  • Richardson number
  • tidal models


Dive into the research topics of 'Estimation of freshwater runoff into Glacier Bay, Alaska and incorporation into a tidal circulation model'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this