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Review

Timescale Methods for Simplifying, Understanding and Modeling Biophysical and Water Quality Processes in Coastal Aquatic Ecosystems: A Review

1
U.S. Geological Survey (Integrated Modeling and Prediction Division, Water Mission Area), 345 Middlefield Road, MS #496, Menlo Park, CA 94025, USA
2
Institute of Mechanics, Materials and Civil Engineering (IMMC) & Earth and Life Institute (ELI), Université catholique de Louvain, Bte L4.05.02, Avenue Georges Lemaître 4, 1348 Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2020, 12(10), 2717; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12102717
Received: 26 May 2020 / Revised: 7 September 2020 / Accepted: 13 September 2020 / Published: 29 September 2020
In this article, we describe the use of diagnostic timescales as simple tools for illuminating how aquatic ecosystems work, with a focus on coastal systems such as estuaries, lagoons, tidal rivers, reefs, deltas, gulfs, and continental shelves. Intending this as a tutorial as well as a review, we discuss relevant fundamental concepts (e.g., Lagrangian and Eulerian perspectives and methods, parcels, particles, and tracers), and describe many of the most commonly used diagnostic timescales and definitions. Citing field-based, model-based, and simple algebraic methods, we describe how physical timescales (e.g., residence time, flushing time, age, transit time) and biogeochemical timescales (e.g., for growth, decay, uptake, turnover, or consumption) are estimated and implemented (sometimes together) to illuminate coupled physical-biogeochemical systems. Multiple application examples are then provided to demonstrate how timescales have proven useful in simplifying, understanding, and modeling complex coastal aquatic systems. We discuss timescales from the perspective of “holism”, the degree of process richness incorporated into them, and the value of clarity in defining timescales used and in describing how they were estimated. Our objective is to provide context, new applications and methodological ideas and, for those new to timescale methods, a starting place for implementing them in their own work. View Full-Text
Keywords: timescale; transport; hydrodynamic; ecological; biogeochemical; coastal; estuary; residence time; age; flushing time timescale; transport; hydrodynamic; ecological; biogeochemical; coastal; estuary; residence time; age; flushing time
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MDPI and ACS Style

Lucas, L.V.; Deleersnijder, E. Timescale Methods for Simplifying, Understanding and Modeling Biophysical and Water Quality Processes in Coastal Aquatic Ecosystems: A Review. Water 2020, 12, 2717. https://doi.org/10.3390/w12102717

AMA Style

Lucas LV, Deleersnijder E. Timescale Methods for Simplifying, Understanding and Modeling Biophysical and Water Quality Processes in Coastal Aquatic Ecosystems: A Review. Water. 2020; 12(10):2717. https://doi.org/10.3390/w12102717

Chicago/Turabian Style

Lucas, Lisa V., and Eric Deleersnijder. 2020. "Timescale Methods for Simplifying, Understanding and Modeling Biophysical and Water Quality Processes in Coastal Aquatic Ecosystems: A Review" Water 12, no. 10: 2717. https://doi.org/10.3390/w12102717

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