Hydrographic Study of Barnegat Bay: Research Project Summary



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Trenton, N.J. : New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Science, Research and Technology


The Barnegat Bay in Ocean County, New Jersey, is an important ecosystem for natural resource species and recreational uses. Similar to other coastal ecosystems, the Bay receives elevated inputs of pollutants from various sources. The transport of pollutants is determined by the ambient circulation pattern of the Bay. The primary objective of this study was to gather a complete set of hydrographic field data (including water surface elevation, current velocity, salinity and temperature) to calibrate and verify an appropriate model that would provide detailed information on the circulation patterns and dispersal of pollutants in the Bay. In addition, several bay-wide circulation parameters were quantified based on the data collected. The calculation results indicated that a large fraction of the water that exited the Bay on the previous ebb tide re-entered the Bay on the following flood tide because it was not quickly dispersed away from the vicinity of the Barnegat Inlet. The calculation results also indicated that the average flushing time (= average time it takes a pollutant to be moved through the bay), or residence time, in Barnegat Bay was very long at about 49 days with seasonal variation. Normalizing the flushing time by the Bay volume and drainage area indicated that Barnegat Bay is much more susceptible to point sources of pollution and similarly susceptible to non-point sources of pollution in comparison to the Chesapeake Bay. Moreover, the amount of direct groundwater seepage to the Barnegat Bay was quantified to be small relative to the total amount of surface water input to the Bay.



New Jersey, New Jersey - Barnegat Bay, Hydrography - New Jersey - Barnegat Bay