Hydrodynamics and water circulation in the New York/New Jersey Harbor: A study from the perspective of water age

Yuanyi Li, Huan Feng, Haiwen Zhang, Jian Sun, D. Yuan, Lei Guo, Jing Nie, Jinglong Du

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The time required for water exchange characterizes the hydrodynamic condition of a water body, which is related to its self-purification ability. In this study, a numerical model based on a three-dimensional hydrodynamic model is established and implemented to calculate the age of water. Using the model, the spatial distribution and seasonal variation of the age of the water discharged into the New York/New Jersey (NY/NJ) Harbor from the Passaic River and the Hackensack River are calculated. The hydrodynamic conditions and the characteristics of water exchange in the harbor are analyzed from the perspective of age. The results indicate that the monthly-averaged age at the entrance of the NY/NJ Harbor is approximately 26 days and 40 days during the wet season and the dry season, respectively. River discharge has a significant impact on the spatial distribution of water age in the NY/NJ Harbor. Generally, high river discharge results in better water exchange and flushes contaminants out of the harbor quickly. However, discharges from several rivers flowing into the harbor interact and interfere with one another. Such interactions can improve or inhibit water and contaminant flushing from the harbor. The analysis of age variations and residual flows indicates that the Kill van Kull is one of the key channels controlling the contaminant transport and water quality in the Newark Bay. This study demonstrates the advantages of using water age to study the water exchange and physical self-purification ability of this complex harbor.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103219
JournalJournal of Marine Systems
StatePublished - Nov 2019


  • NY/NJ Harbor
  • River discharge
  • River flow interactivity
  • Water age
  • Water exchange


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