A Two-Dimensional Finite Element Model for Surface Flow Characteristics of the Chequamegon Bay, Lake Superior


August 2023

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The Chequamegon Bay, a shallow bay on the south shore of Lake Superior, was modeled using 2D shallow water equations in FreeFEM++ with the finite element method to study the surface flow under varying boundary conditions and compare it to previously collected data. The approach did capture the velocity flow of the Bay about 63% of the time and 66% of the time for the direction of the flow. An understanding of how long it takes water in the Bay to exchange with rest of Lake Superior is essential for understanding the continued risk for water quality of the Chequamegon Bay. The surface flow was created by changing boundary conditions every 6 hours using data from a USGS buoy. Pollutants were added to the Bay in different locations. Pollutants stayed in the Bay for 40 to 66 days with the pollutants first reaching the outlet to Lake Superior between 16-22 days depending on where the source of the pollutant was located. Using FreeFEM++ the surface flow of the Chequamegon Bay was modeled using and further research can be done to further understand the deeper circulation of the Bay. FreeFEM++ has numerous examples for simulating 2D models and is developing finite volume methos as well. FreeFEM++ has shown to work well in this situation, modeling surface flow and studying residence time.





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