University of Washington, Columbia River Estuarine Turbidity Maximum Project

Data Center Description
The Columbia River Estuarine Turbidity Maximum (CRETM) research
program is one of three in the National Science Foundation's
Land-Margin Ecosystem Research (LMER) program. Our research site is in
the Columbia River estuary, at the coastal border of Washington and
Oregon states (USA), but both our measurements and our interest
stretch upriver into the watershed.

Our fundamental research goal is to understand how circulation
phenomena in the estuary, called estuarine turbidity maxima (ETM),
trap particles and promote biogeochemical, microbial and ecological
processes that sustain a dominant pathway in the estuary's food
web. To study this relationship between the physics of ETM and these
various processes requires a resolutely interdisciplinary approach,
and a complex, highly-orchestrated suite of field and laboratory
measurements and experiments. The CRETM-LMER team involves scientists
from six distinct disciplines-geophysics, sedimentology, geochemistry,
microbiology, primary production biology, and zooplankton and food web
ecology-to characterize ETM process. But, we depend upon hydrodynamic
and ecosystem process modelers to help us synthesize our understanding
about how the ETM and associated estuarine processes act as a "living"
system that is fundamental to the way the estuary behaves.


[Summary provided by CRETM.]