Water Quality Modeling: Magic or Math?
Mathematical water quality modeling is used by the Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology) to help understand how a water body responds to pollutant loadings, and run virtual ‘experiments’ on what can be done to improve water quality in water bodies around the State that do not meet Water Quality Standards. This talk will provide an overview of what water quality modeling is and share some modeling related challenges and insights related to an example application of the Salish Sea Model.
The Salish Sea Model was developed by Pacific Northwest National Laboratories (PNNL) in cooperation with Ecology. The model is being used by Ecology to evaluate the relative effects of human nutrient inputs on low dissolved oxygen and acidification levels throughout the Salish Sea, with a focus on evaluating water quality in Puget Sound. Model results so far indicate that nutrient loading from anthropogenic activities result in depletion of oxygen levels below reference conditions, and can constitute significant contributors to acidification in the Salish Sea. The extent of these responses vary due to inter-annual variability in river flows, weather/climate patterns, and conditions in the Pacific Ocean – among other factors. Some areas of the Salish Sea are more sensitive than others due to natural bathymetry and circulation patterns. We anticipate that the anthropogenic nutrient impact on Salish Sea water quality will become more pronounced in the future with climate change and population growth.
Photo: Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX
Teizeen Mohamedali works as an environmental engineer at the Washington State Department of Ecology within the Environmental Assessment Program’s modeling unit, where she has worked off and on since 2006. She works with a team of scientists and engineers on water quality studies that use data analysis and computer modeling to determine what pollution reductions are needed to bring rivers, streams and other waterbodies into compliance with the State’s Water Quality Standards.
Teizeen was born in Kenya and spent most of her childhood in different countries in Africa, and immigrated to Washington State with her family when she was sixteen. She graduated from WWU’s Huxley College with a B.S. in Environmental Science in 2006, and with an M.S. in Civil & Environmental Engineering from Stanford University in 2011. She now lives in Bellingham with her husband and two young daughters. At work, likes to crunch numbers, model the environment, and tell engaging stories hidden within environmental data using creative graphics and sound science. In her free time, she likes to tromp outside with her family, hike, improve her skiing skills, experiment in the kitchen, read, travel, get girls excited about STEM, and participate in interfaith activities.
You can subscribe to announcements about upcoming Huxley Speakers here: Subscribe