Large and small-scale sediment dynamics during (after) the drought

Start/End: July, 2016 to June, 2018

Turbidity plays a key role in Delta aquatic ecosystems, where suspended sediment can limit light for phytoplankton growth, transport contaminants, provide protection from predation for many fish species, and contribute to natural sediment recovery in shallow water habitats. The impact of drought conditions on water quality and ecological health is not well studied in estuarine systems, and more information is needed to manage the impacts of California’s drought and recovery in the Delta.

This project will examine the effects of drought conditions on turbidity, particularly the interplay between estuarine turbulence, suspended sediment flocculation (particle aggregation), and in-water light levels. Information from this project will contribute fundamental knowledge on flocculation dynamics, help identify critical points for turbidity control during drought, and improve modeling and predictions of sediment transport within the Delta.