Hydraulic paths and estimation of the real residence time of the water in Lago Maggiore (N. Italy): application of massless markers transported in 3D motion fields

Submitted: 23 November 2011
Accepted: 23 November 2011
Published: 19 January 2012
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This study, conducted using the TRIM_LM model, is a continuation of work on the movement of the water mass at different depths in Lago Maggiore, and thus on the estimation of the real residence time of the water in the lake. Three-dimensional CFD numerical simulations were extended to a 4-year period, focusing on the movements of 202 (two hundred and two) massless markers inserted at different points in Lago Maggiore and at the mouths of 11 of its tributaries, enabling us to establish more realistic water renewal times for Lago Maggiore. By crossing the data of the horizontal trajectories of the environmental markers with those of their vertical variations, we reconstructed their movements over the four years of the simulation programme. An analysis of the results shows that the water mass in the layers of the upper 100 m has residence times between a minimum of 1 y and a maximum of 4-5 y. The water from the tributaries has residence times between 250 and 1000 days, depending on the distance of the tributaries from the closing section of the lake. The water in the layers below 100 m has residence times that still cannot be quantified with precision, but that can certainly be estimated at a number of years in two figures. These times are strongly conditioned by the depth of the late winter mixing, which in the last 40 y has not exceeded 200 m.

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Ambrosetti, Walter, Luigi Barbanti, Angelo Rolla, Leonardo Castellano, and Nicoletta Sala. 2012. “Hydraulic Paths and Estimation of the Real Residence Time of the Water in Lago Maggiore (N. Italy): Application of Massless Markers Transported in 3D Motion Fields”. Journal of Limnology 71 (1):e2. https://doi.org/10.4081/jlimnol.2012.e2.

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