A new modeling capability developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory incorporates important biogeochemical processes happening in river corridors for a clearer understanding of how water quality will be impacted by climate change, land use and population growth.
Researchers used high-performance computing and the award-winning Amanzi-ATS software to include biogeochemical reactions in microbially active zones near streams in models that track the movement of dissolved chemicals in river networks. These reactions have a major influence on the cycling of carbon, nutrients and contaminants at basin scales. The new multiscale model better tracks water quality indicators such as nitrogen and mercury levels.
“To build a next-generation modeling capability to address water quality issues, we needed a new multiscale framework that allows us to incorporate fundamental understanding of key processes and how those fine-scale processes manifest at much larger scales,” ORNL’s Scott Painter said.