In this world of computer modelling and simulation, it is refreshing to find a pure analog system for modelling physical processes. The Puget Sound Model is one such simulation that is still used to demonstrate the patterns of tidal flow in Puget Sound.
The Puget Sound Model is an actual physical model of the underwater topography of Puget Sound from Point Wilson and Deception Pass in the north to Olympia in the south. Built to scale and measuring approximately 15 feet in length, the model can reproduce tidal currents into and out of Puget Sound, both at the surface and at depth, and reproduces the effects of the discharge of fresh water from rivers in the Puget Sound Basin.
This marvelous model was constructed in 1950 by Clifford Barnes and John Lincoln at the University of Washington School of Oceanography and is still in use today as an educational tool. In the 21st century, it has been largely superseded by computer simulations such as the Salish Sea Model, which is capable of modelling many different marine processes. It also covers a much larger area, including Juan de Fuca, the Georgia and Queen Charlotte Straits, and the offshore waters from the Columbia River to northern Vancouver Island, to the edge of the continental shelf.
Visit the site of the Salish Sea Model at the University of Washington
This video describes its construction and operation. The model is still used as an educational and research tool for understanding Puget Sound currents and physical processes.
This video describes the geography of Puget Sound.
This video describes how the model simulates tides and currents in Puget Sound.
Primarily for laymen, explains what oceanography is all about and shows how a scaled hydraulic model of Puget Sound is used by oceanographers to obtain a better understanding of this estuarine environment and to study potential problems relating to regional marine activities and resource use. (A Washington Sea Grant presentation.)