The prediction problem for salinity intrusion




Ward, George H.

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Galveston Bay National Estuary Program


Salinity prediction in an estuary such as Galveston Bay is deceptive: it appears simple, should be solved, and yet, is a continuing source of controversy. On the one hand, salinity is the quintessential estuarine parameter, virtually conservative, and easy to measure, so there should be an extensive data base. Moreover, predictive analyses of salinity have been carried out for about a century. The earliest estuary digital models addressed salinity, and for the Texas estuaries, the state has invested a considerable effort in model development and verification. On the other hand, when issues arise involving salinity intrusion, such as freshwater inflow releases to ameliorate high salinities, or proposed enlargements of a ship channel, the scientific assessments dissolve into dialectics, focusing on the unreliability of salinity prediction.


pgs. 315-325


salinity, estuaries, river discharge, density, water currents