Determining Near-Bottom Fluxes of Passive Tracers in Aquatic Environments

Cynthia E. Bluteau, Gregory N. Ivey, Daphne Donis, Daniel F. McGinnis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
254 Downloads (Pure)


In aquatic systems, the eddy correlation method (ECM) provides vertical flux measurements near the sediment-water interface. The ECM independently measures the turbulent vertical velocities w’ and the turbulent tracer concentration c’ at a high sampling rate (> 1 Hz) to obtain the vertical flux (Formula presented.) from their time-averaged covariance. This method requires identifying and resolving all the flow-dependent time (and length) scales contributing to (Formula presented.). With increasingly energetic flows, we demonstrate that the ECM's current technology precludes resolving the smallest flux-contributing scales. To avoid these difficulties, we show that for passive tracers such as dissolved oxygen, (Formula presented.) can be measured from estimates of two scalar quantities: the rate of turbulent kinetic energy dissipation ε and the rate of tracer variance dissipation χc. Applying this approach to both laboratory and field observations demonstrates that (Formula presented.) is well resolved by the new method and can provide flux estimates in more energetic flows where the ECM cannot be used.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2716-2725
Number of pages10
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 28 Mar 2018


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