Plum Island Estuary

Field Observation of Advection and Dispersion

To understand wetland ecosystems we must first understand the pathways of fluid transport within these systems. Transport involves both advection and dispersion. Advection is the bulk motion associated with the mean flow, and dispersion is the rate of spreading associated with spatial and temporal deviations from the mean flow. For example, aquatic organisms rely on transport by water currents for the dispersal of larval stages, and aquatic plants rely on water currents for seed dispersal and pollination. Further, many organisms use chemical signals for information on foraging and mating, and these signals are shaped by advection and dispersion. This field study will measure the velocity structure and dispersion within an emergent salt-marsh and test models that predict advection and dispersion from the distribution of vegetation biomass.

Funded by the National Science Foundation.