The effect of turbid inflows into Winam Gulf, Lake Victoria: a 3D modeling study with ELCOM-CAEDYM
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The catchment of Winam Gulf in Kenya supports a population of 4.5 million inhabitants. Much of the population practices subsistence agriculture in the catchment that has led to high rates of sediment erosion and ultimately highly turbid rivers. Hence, every year during the two equatorial wet seasons, large quantities of catchment sediments are deposited into Winam Gulf. In Apr.-May 2005 an intensive field investigation was undertaken to determine the exchange dynamics between the northeastern offshore waters of Lake Victoria and Winam Gulf through Rusinga Channel. One of the outcomes of this scientific study was the validation of ELCOM (Estuary, Lake and Coastal Ocean Model), a three-dimensional (3D) hydrodynamics model, over Rusinga Channel and Winam Gulf. CAEDYM (Computational Aquatic Ecological DYnamic Model) is a water quality model that can be readily linked to ELCOM. In this modeling study we linked ELCOM and CAEDYM to evaluate the transport and fate of riverine sediments in Winam Gulf from several of the large rivers. Several size classes of suspended solids were evaluated. The extent and concentrations of sediment plumes were modeled over a range of riverine discharge. Further, simulations were run with reduced riverine sediment concentrations to evaluate the effect of turbidity levels in Winam Gulf if catchment improvement practices were implemented. This study illustrates that application of coupled 3D hydrodynamic and water quality models can serve to improve understanding of sediment plume dynamics in tropical lakes.
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