Researchers

Jim Thomson

Senior Principal Oceanographer

AIRS Department

APL-UW

Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Joe Talbert

Field Engineer II

AIRS Department

APL-UW

Alex de Klerk

Field Engineer II

AIRS Department

APL-UW

Maricarmen Guerra

Research Assistant

AIRS Department

APL-UW

Carol Maloy

Project Manager

WA State Dept. of Ecology

Christopher Krembs

Scientist

WA State Dept. of Ecology

Shelia Helgath

Environmental Program Manager

WA State Ferries

Cotty Fay

Chief Naval Architect

WA State Ferries

Bill Hughes

Captain

WA State Ferries

Mark Scoville

Electrical Engineer

WA State Ferries

M. Burgos

Network Administrator

WA State Ferries

Partners

Enivronmental Protection Agency

WA State Dept. of Ecology

WA State Dept. of Transportation

Integral Consulting Inc.

Puget Sound Partnership

NANOOS

Kindly supports data collection

Ferry-Based Monitoring of Puget Sound Currents

This project is in collaboration with the Washington Department of Ecology, which has a mandate to understand water quality in Puget Sound. Part of understanding water quality is understanding where the water’s coming from.

By having our instruments on the ferries, now we can start to get a total estimate as to how much water is intruding at the bottom from the ocean and how much water is leaving at the top from the rivers and the freshwater outflow.

Research Results

Tidal current observations through Admiralty Inlet from ferry-mounted current profilers

Guerra, M., J. Thomson, T. Prusa, C. Falkenhayn Maloy, C. Krembs, and B. Sackmann, "Tidal current observations through Admiralty Inlet from ferry-mounted current profilers," J. Ocean Eng. Mar. Energy, EOR, doi:10.1007/s40722-019-00135-w, 2019.

More Info

10 Jun 2019

Admiralty Inlet is a narrow sill located at the northern end of Puget Sound (WA, USA). Circulation through Admiralty Inlet is complex, with tidal currents exceeding 3 m s-1, large variations in fresh water input to the system, and seasonal ocean water intrusions. Long-term observations of the currents across the entire inlet are crucial for understanding circulation through Puget Sound. In this context, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) Ferries, which run year round through Admiralty Inlet, provide a cost-effective platform to mount instruments and obtain long time series of currents distributed across the inlet. Through the Ferry-Base Monitoring of Puget Sound Currents project, two down-looking acoustic Doppler current profilers (ADCPs) are installed on board two WSDOT ferries, providing depth profiles of velocities across the inlet since May 2014. All data are quality controlled and organized in an horizontal and vertical grid across the inlet. Data within each grid cell are analyzed to capture tidal current harmonic components. Results agree well with data from fixed bottom-mounted ADCPs, and show large spatial variability in the amplitude of harmonic components, probably related to the bathymetric features of the inlet. Further analysis provides estimates of tidal asymmetry and residual currents through the inlet, which are relevant to water quality within the Puget Sound.

Research Objectives

To improve and calibrate water quality models that are being developed by the Washington State Dept. of Ecology to better understand and predict water quality throughout the Puget Sound, we will expand the ferry monitoring network to include public ferries run by the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) on the Port Townsend to Coupeville route. Installation of automated instruments to measure current velocities on select WSDOT vessels will allow us to record measurements continuously as ferries makes their multiple daily runs.

WSDOT ferries occupy strategic cross-sections in Puget Sound – often at the very constriction points between basins that would let us most easily measure water exchange and circulation between those basins. We need to understand the water quality condition, circulation, and exchange of water masses within and between natural sub-basins of Puget Sound, as well as exchange with the ocean, in order to manage water quality in Puget Sound (e.g., nutrient enrichment, low dissolved oxygen conditions, the transport of toxic chemicals, harmful algal blooms, and ocean acidification).

We are installing an instrument known as an Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP) on two ferries. These sensors, which primarily measure current velocities in a continuous transect along the ferry route, will provide unprecedented surface-to-bottom measurements of water-mass movement and transport between basins.

Research Bulletins aboard the Kennewick and Salish

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