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.