Journal cover Journal topic
Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
doi:10.5194/hess-2016-553
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
15 Nov 2016
Review status
This discussion paper is under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS).
The physics behind Van der Burgh's empirical equation, providing a new predictive equation for salinity intrusion in estuaries
Zhilin Zhang and Hubert H. G. Savenije Department of Water Management, Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences, Delft University of Technology, Delft, the Netherlands
Abstract. The practical value of the surprisingly simple Van der Burgh's equation to predict saline water intrusion in alluvial estuaries is well documented, but the physical foundation of the equation is still weak. In this paper we provide a connection between the empirical equation and the theoretical literature, leading to a theoretical range for the Van der Burgh's coefficient of 1/2 < K < 2/3 which falls within the feasible range of 0 < K < 1. In addition, we developed a one-dimensional predictive equation for the dispersion of salinity as a function of local hydraulic parameters that can vary along the estuary axis, including mixing due to residual circulation. This type of mixing is relevant in the wider part of alluvial estuaries where preferential ebb and flood channels appear. Subsequently, this dispersion equation is combined with the salt balance equation to obtain a new predictive analytical equation for the longitudinal salinity distribution. Finally, the new equation was tested and applied to a large database of observations in alluvial estuaries, whereby the calibrated $K$ values appeared to correspond well with the theoretical range.

Citation: Zhang, Z. and Savenije, H. H. G.: The physics behind Van der Burgh's empirical equation, providing a new predictive equation for salinity intrusion in estuaries, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss., doi:10.5194/hess-2016-553, in review, 2016.
Zhilin Zhang and Hubert H. G. Savenije
Zhilin Zhang and Hubert H. G. Savenije
Zhilin Zhang and Hubert H. G. Savenije

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