Optimal pollution mitigation in Monterey bay based on coastal radar data and nonlinear dynamics

Coulliette, C., F. Lekien, J. D. Paduan, G. Haller, and J. E. Marsden

Environ. Sci. and Technol., 41, 6562-6572


High-frequency (HF) radar technology produces detailed velocity maps near the surface of estuaries and bays. The use of velocity data in environmental prediction, nonetheless, remains unexplored. In this paper, we uncover a striking flow structure in coastal radar observations of Monterey Bay, along the California coastline. This complex structure governs the spread of organic contaminants, such as agricultural runoff which is a typical source of pollution in the bay. We show that a HF radar-based pollution release scheme using this flow structure reduces the impact of pollution on the coastal environment in the bay. We predict the motion of the Lagrangian flow structures from finite-time Lyapunov exponents of the coastal HF velocity data. From this prediction, we obtain optimal release times, at which pollution leaves the bay most efficiently.